The following article was originally published in my column, “Actualizing Your Yoga” in 2010. I hope you enjoy it. – FEN
New Intentions For 2010
by Françoise Netter
Hello and Happy New Year! Have you incorporated the meanings of Dharma and Namaste in your life? Have you been practicing the Complete Breath? Have you been able to let go and stay contented even while faced with life’s challenges? For those of you new to this column, I invite you to email me for back-issues of the column or the magazine itself.
2010!! What a perfect time to set new intentions and dig deeper into your Yoga practice physically, mentally and spiritually. What I love most about Yoga is that it embraces every aspect of life. We, in West, often define Yoga simply as a physical activity, like Pilates, but I hope that as you read this column you are seeing the greater significance of Yoga and the many facets with which it can expand your understanding and improve the quality of your life.
In the last column, I explored the meaning of Dharma. For those of you who were unable to secure a copy of Circles of Seven Magazine, I’m going to incorporate portions of the last column and expand upon it.
Every so often I am able to watch the Oprah Show while working out. Yesterday, she dedicated her one-hour show to the story of a little girl diagnosed with Child Schizophrenia. At first, I didn’t understand why Oprah would spend an entire hour on this subject but then while she was interviewing this child’s parents on Skype, I “got” it.
It was clear from the story that the child’s parents made huge sacrifices in order to keep this child alive. Sacrifices that most of us would not only balk at but, but simply give up on. Ironically, this little girl’s father almost did just that, trying to end his life, but reversed his actions at the last minute while contemplating the thoughts that he could not abandon his family no matter how challenging his life and the situation was. On some level, these parents realized that no matter how difficult, this was their Dharma.
The term, Dharma, refers to our highest soul’s purpose and to making a difference in the world with right action. Many of us in the Western World think Dharma has to do with an exclusive purpose that may include fame and fortune. But I believe, those fulfilling their highest purpose are often doing the most simple and sometimes difficult tasks. Someone in a janitorial position could be fulfilling his or her Dharma more effectively then a wealthy celebrity who is world famous.
Close your eyes, take three complete breaths and reflect on the circumstances of your life right now. Without using the economy, your age or anything else in the external world as an excuse, imagine what you have always felt was your life’s mission or purpose. Then open your eyes and write both of these down– what your life looks like now and what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Remember that your Dharma may be like a seed hidden in the circumstances of your life right now or you may be oceans away from what is true for you. In either case it is important to not only be aligned with your Dharma, but to be contented with your life whether it appears easy or difficult, fun or tedious.
I remember when I was in India many years ago, my Yoga Master said; “The food you put in your body is very important, but even more important is the food you put in your mind.” Our attitude and thoughts about our circumstances are even more important then the circumstances themselves. Because, just like the father in Oprah’s show demonstrated, once we change our thoughts and perception, everything outwardly aligns itself. His child did not magically recover from Schizophrenia, but he embraced his responsibilities with a different attitude that helped him deal with his life in a renewed way.
As we begin a new year, many of the circumstances in our lives may not change overnight, but if we begin to question and change our attitudes, thoughts and “the food we put in our minds”, we can actualize the outer changes that more closely reflect our dreams and visions of our Dharma. The Yogis were masters largely because they understood that mastery begins with the inner journey.
2009, for me, was a year filled with many seemingly outer hassles and challenges. As I reflected on this year, I realized there were themes, stories and patterns from my past that needed overhauling and re-designing within myself in order to enact the changes I want to create outwardly in 2010.
I remember a talk my Yoga Master gave over 25 years ago in Oakland, California. Each word was artfully descriptive allowing the theme of the talk to remain etched in my mind to this day. Basically, he illuminated the idea that many of us wear unconscious masks that camouflage our true selves. These masks include the limitations we place on ourselves both consciously and unconsciously. As we begin 2010, I invite you to deeply reflect on your inner story—your beliefs, attitudes and thoughts. Journal about this without editing your language and choose one mask of limitation that you will commit to removing this year.
Even though the circumstances of your life may seem distant from what you imagined as your highest purpose, by changing your attitude and dealing with what is in front of you with joy and surrender, those very circumstances may transform into your wildest dreams and true Dharma.
As we invoke the commencement of a New Year, let us begin to incorporate the meanings of Dharma into our thoughts and actions. Wherever you may find yourself in life, let Yoga begin to permeate and soothe the rough edges you encounter and transform them into ease and greatness.
“I welcome you with all my heart.”
© 2009, Françoise E. Netter, M.A.
Françoise E. Netter, M. A., President of Body/Mind Dynamics has been a teacher and conference presenter in the field of yoga, stress management, creativity development, dance, and dance therapy, for over thirty years throughout the world. She has taught at major universities, authored a book and a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program and has been featured on television, radio, CD and video and in magazine and newspaper articles including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Françoise is available for private consultations and coaching as well as Keynote presentations and events and has ongoing classes, training programs, workshops and special retreats and travel workshops. Contact her at: www.bodyminddynamics.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.960.6000.