Forget the Resolutions! Let Your Values Be Your Guide

I recently had an acquaintance on Facebook ask whether her followers made New Year’s #resolutions and why. Not surprisingly, most people answered with a resounding no saying that it was a waste of time. I responded that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but spend time near the end of every year to set myself some guiding principles instead. What’t the difference?happy-new-year-2011-800px

The thing with New Year’s resolutions is that they generally arise out of something about ourselves we cannot accept. We’re trying to “fix” ourselves. We think we’re fat, so we resolve to lose weight. We think we’re lazy, so we resolve to exercise at the gym. We know smoking is killing us, so we resolve to quit. We all know how the story ends. Give it a few good weeks or even a couple of months, and our initial motivation dies out. We meant well, but  instead of reaching a goal, we end up judging ourselves for our perceived failure. No wonder people have given up on making resolutions!

This year, why not try something completely different? The difference with creating New Year Guiding Principles is that is arises out of your values. There’s no end goal, so the energy guides you all year long. And instead of you having to control anything, you just have to let life takes its course, offering you the lessons and opportunities that align with those guiding principles. The wonderful thing about this practice is that at the end of the year, a quick review will reveal to you all the ways you actually did manifest the things you said were important to you. In my 10+ years with this practice, it never fails.

Here’s a quick guide to writing your own guiding principles. Of course, there are no rules here, so do what works for you. Be creative. The one thing I do strongly suggest, though, is that you take this seriously. Make it a ritual. Give it your undivided attention, get quiet and centered beforehand, play some nice music, light a candle. You get the idea.

STEP ONE:

Consider what you value. Begin by taking an inventory of things that matter most to you. I don’t mean material things; I mean standards of behavior. Do you value creativity? Truth? Family? Service? If you need some inspiration, Steve Pavlina has a great list to refer to here. Pick one or two things. One is enough. Any more than three and your focus will be too divided throughout the year. Now open up a journal or Word document and add your two words at the top of the page. I like to be very decorative with these.

STEP TWO:

Describe these values with a few words and how you intend for them to become fruitful in your life.

I usually write a brief paragraph explaining my choices:

This year, I am choosing “Clarity” and “Forgiveness” as my guiding principles. May all that keeps me from being clear, from being in my knowing, become apparent. May the choices and decisions I make come from a place free of confusion, blindspots, and self-doubt. May I come to forgive anyone or thing in my life that I continue to resent. May I free myself from the bitter poison of holding on to past hurts and misunderstandings. Most especially, may I be quick to forgive others in the year ahead and learn to forgive myself for past actions.

STEP THREE:

Add some specific things you’d like to do or accomplish that are inline with these values and will help you cultivate them.

For example, if you value clarity, you might decide that you’d like to focus more on meditation because that will help you gain the clarity you desire. If you value justice, maybe you’ll spend some time with the concept, deciding what it actually means to you and by paying attention for examples in your daily life of what noise_maker_colorit is and isn’t. If you value creativity, perhaps you’ll pick up some new mode of expression be it writing or painting or learning an instrument. It isn’t about anything too specific, like learning the piano. It’s about exercising your creative expression when opportunity arises so it’s free to take many forms. If you value health, maybe you’ll cut back on sugar or try new superfoods.

The important thing in step three is to keep things as “resolution free” as possible. This isn’t about reaching an end goal. You may or may not, for example, cut out sugar, but I guarantee you, will, by the end of year, be astounded at how whatever you value has come into your life in unexpected ways. You’ll be more forgiving. You’ll be more creative. You’ll be more adaptable or wise or joyous.

If you find yourself writing a list of things that sound more like resolutions, try this. Make a list of things you’ll spend less time doing and more time doing:

I will spend less time griping about what I can’t control and more time letting things roll of my back.
I will spend less time zoning out on social media and more time actually socializing.

STEP FOUR: Put it away.

That’s right. Unlike a resolution that you think about constantly and use to feel rotten, don’t think about your list. Yes, the words will be in your awareness, but you don’t have to take any action. Trust life to fulfil your order and take notice when it does!

Oh, and feel free to edit at intervals throughout the year. After all, things change. Go with the flow!

STEP FIVE: End of Year Review

Come November or December, it is time to revisit what you wrote. Reflect month by month all the ways your values were expressed (or not) throughout the year. There’s no failure here. Everything is a gift, a lesson. If you just couldn’t forgive someone, you’ll now have a better understanding of how aligned you are with your values and the work that still needs to be done, if any. But more likely, you’ll be astonished at all the ways you allowed forgiveness, or whatever you value, into your life.

Most importantly, instead of berating yourself for failing to “improve” yourself by reaching some unattainable goal that you never really wanted to reach in the first place, you can feel good about living a year living in the direction of what you value. #HappyNewYear!

Mirrors in Feng Shui

Ludwig von Langenmantel’s Woman in a Blue DressThere is an art to using Mirrors in Feng Shui and for good reason. They reflect the beauty around you (assuming you are indeed surrounded by beauty), put eyes in the back of your head (I loved my over-the-stove mirror that let me see what was happening behind me in my kitchen), and magnify the light, pushing or pulling chi. They have a reputation of being a cure-all, but as you’ll see from this blog, there are right ways and wrong ways to use mirrors inside your home.

We don’t often pay attention to what the mirrors in our homes are reflecting. Mirrors are typically meant to serve either a functional or simply decorative purpose, perhaps making a small room feel larger. But when we become more conscious of how we are using our mirrors, maybe some of that good-old Feng Shui luck and prosperity can come our way. If we don’t, we may end up with bad Feng Shui and bad luck! I remember looking at an apartment once. As soon as I opened the door, I suffered the shock of someone standing right at the door as I entered. Even if it was only my reflection, it made me jump. Not a good mirror placement and for more than one reason! This blog gives some very good tips about mirror placement.

Mirrors have fascinating qualities, not just expanding a room, as this blog reveals. They carry water energy and can help us stay in the flow. They can help us awaken and access our creativity, and they can repel the “bad energies” that come at us from all directions. But it isn’t just where the mirror is placed. There is also the consideration of the quality and condition of the mirror to ponder. Is it dirty, cracked, peeling? Such conditions can create or magnify problems for us as this blog shares.

Finally, one should also think about how a mirror is hung. Is it too high? Too low? This blog offers some good tips not only on hanging mirrors according to “good Feng Shui”, it also gives ideas on how to use mirrors to magnify your dreams and personal affirmations (what Mirror Spiritus is all about!).

Have you found a really cool way to use a mirror in your own home or life?

 

 

 

Nichiren Daishonin

“A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality.”

~Nichiren Daishonin

 

More on Osho & Mirror Meditation

When we look into the mirror during mirror meditation, what do we see?

Spiritual teacher, Mooji, has an awesome youtube meditation in which he has you visualize yourself standing on a scale removing everything that is not natural to you. In other words, you remove your clothes, your dental fillings, and your nail polish, and once that is through, you remove the memories and thoughts which did not exist for you when you were born. In other words, it is a stripping away of all that is unnatural to our being. When we practice this, we get a sense of just how light our actual being is. Osho, another spiritual teacher, defines meditation as “the art of cleaning your mirror from all the dust that the society, the religion, the educational system has poured on you, to take away everything that has not been born with you, to bring you to your absolute innocence as you were born as a child”.

When Osho was asked why during mirror meditation, one meditator felt like he wasn’t looking at or seeing himself, Osho explained that this is absolutely correct! The reflection we see isn’t us. We are what is perceiving the reflection. He says, “if you think you are mirrored in the mirror, that is a lie…” It just happens to be one we all agree upon, and therefore it seems logical and real. He goes on to say, “Your consciousness cannot be reflected by the mirror,” unless, he says, that mirror is love.

oshoOsho’s teaching on this is so profoundly beautiful. He explains how lovers can sometimes mirror each other through their deep intimacy. The personalities disappear and only love remains. The experience is akin to two mirrors reflecting one another thus reflecting infinity. That’s what two clear mirrors do when they face each other. They create infinity. This is one of the reasons why practicing mirror meditation with someone you love (being one another’s mirror) can be so profound.

When you are practicing mirror meditation alone, do the practice, whatever the focus, and engage with yourself, but always try to keep in the back of your mind that what you see is NOT you. Always bring any mirror meditation session to a close by being still and empty, practicing the recognition that you are the pure consciousness aware of the reflection and not what is being reflected.

Source: God’s Got a Thing About You, Chapter 17 – Osho

Meet Artist & Lighting Designer Jill Mulholland

“Color and light are the strongest elicitors of beauty.”

I love how I met artist and lighting designer, Jill Mulholland. I had gone to a Temazcal or Mexican sweatlodge in Albuquerque. The woman running it just happened to be talking about a woman she knew who had done some research on how mirrors were used by “avisadores” to communicate with light signals across long distances. Having been working on Mirror Spiritus for several weeks prior, my little ears perked up. I begged for an introduction.

Jill was very accommodating and willing to meet with me not knowing if I was some kind of crazy person or not. She invited me to her home and without even having to explain what I was up to, she told me all about herself and her work. She had so many interesting things to share about mirrors and light. I was enthralled.

Then she showed me her Light Confetti. I was immediately taken back to a scene from the movie, Pollyanna, when the children discover “rainbow makers” or chandelier crystals at the house of the grumpy old man. Only Jill’s Light Confetti was about 10x more enchanting than any crystal light show I’ve seen. This art was casting a sun-lit constellation of stars all over her room! It was breathtakingly beautiful.

I downloaded a copy of Jill’s dissertation, Light Celebrating Place, West Texas Road Trip, and started reading it. It isn’t as dry as one might expect. Instead, it is a poetic and inspiring work that details her fascination with light, shadow, reflection, glow and color; reading about it fascinates the reader in turn…at least it did me. It’s right up the Mirror Spiritus alley, so to speak. Confetti-1-2-300x103

She writes:

“For me, reflections let me enter that place inside myself where it is quiet and non-verbal.”

She also talks about the depth of information contained in a shadow and that while reflection “bounces off”, glow “passes through”. Without knowing anything about mirror meditation, Jill has somehow managed to describe what it is, how it works, and what can be achieved through its practice!

I have two of these delightful, glistening pieces in my home now. I definitely want more!!! I hope to add some more photos of Light Confetti soon, so stay tuned.


Jill Mulholland received a B.A. in Maya Archaeology from Rutgers College, worked as an archaeologist in Belize, and as a contract archaeologist in California, Montana, Oregon and New Jersey. She learned light as a three-dimensional art form in the theater and received a Masters in Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon. Jill practiced as an architectural lighting designer in San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Princeton. She received a PhD. in Architecture from Texas A&M University, where she taught design studios in the Architecture and Visualization Departments. Her dissertation, Light Celebrating Place, resulted in four works of light art, one of which was temporarily installed in Big Bend National Park. This installation brought her work full circle back to the archaeology of the Mesoamerica and the Southwest.

Jill was the recipient of the Baker Chair, a position of merit that brings distinguished faculty to the University of Oregon in 2011. Later in 2011 she was a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma. Currently she coordinates an all-volunteer non-profit board for the International Association of Lighting Designers that furthers architectural lighting education. Jill recently moved to Albuquerque to start a light art studio.

 

 

 

Vocal Toning Exercise: Spring Cleaning!

pinwheelAbout this time of year, many minds turn to the practice of spring cleaning, clearing out the closets, dusting in all the nooks and crannies of a home, and making things sparkle!

Why not do the same inside? Our bodies and minds could use a good cleansing after this rather challenging winter, don’t you think?

Winter is typically a time of reflection and hibernation. We’ve taken inventory and hopefully come to a clearer understanding of what is worth keeping and what has to go. Now, tiny buds emerge and new colors pop into our awareness as we prepare for the re-emerging of dormant life.

Vocal toning is a perfect tool for clearing out and making space for what wants to emerge from within you. So set aside 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, go outside into the sun, and have some toning fun. Choose a vowel with a vibration that resonates for you with the sweeping out of dust and debris of the winter. Maybe for one person that is “SHHH” sound. Maybe for another, it’s an “EH”. Give the byproducts of your toning to the earth for recycling; she knows what to do with it.

When that process feels complete, tone for the joy of Spring! You can tone to a tree you encounter on a walk, tone to the little bulb sprouts popping their heads into the day, or simply breath in this fresh promise of spring and exhale an “AH!”

Enjoy!