Happy 2016! Welcome to the Year of the Fire Monkey

Happy New Year 2016, Yogis, Yoginis, and all the rest of you beautiful readers!

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Letting Go of 2015

Thank you always for reading my blog! One of my major visions for 2016 is to make this blog more active, so that I can really connect with students, friends, and those who find their way here. I have a lot that I want to share, but procrastination and poor time management have gotten in the way of that. So, on New Year’s eve I did a small ritual with some friends. We wrote down the thing or behavior that we would like to let go of from 2015 on a piece of paper. I chose procrastination ^v^ We then discussed this with a partner. Then, we ripped the papers up in little pieces and our resident magician, Alberto, made them magically disappear! It was a fun and liberating way to end the year – recognizing a weakness and making a commitment to let go of it.

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How to Spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day… How does it affect your year?

The Japanese traditionally spend New Years very differently from us in the US (a detailed comparison on the two countries will be posted later). While Americans tend to go out to bars, clubs, or parties, and salute the New Year at midnight with a class of champagne and a kiss, Japanese typically spend the eve at home, watching TV and eating soba with family, then celebrating the stroke of 12 at temple to the sound of 108 rings of the temple bell. Americans spend New Years Day hung over, while Japanese think it’s good luck to see the sunrise on the first day and visit a shrine. Most people eat an elaborate meal and spend time with relatives.

There are of course a myriad of ways that one can ring in the New Year, whether with a temple bell or the clinking of champagne glasses. For yogis and others who practice reflection and mindfulness, there are other ways to spend the New Year. Just one year ago, New Years Day 2015, I was sitting in a cave meditating with a small group at an ashram on an island in the Philippines. For some, that sounds weird, while others might think it’s cool. For me at that moment in my life, it was the ideal way to start the year – deep in reflection and stillness, allowing my inner voice to be heard clearly.

2015 proved to be a year of great reflection and practice, growth and change, self-care and acceptance, and finally gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Looking back over the year, I could see how from the start to the end, it was an organic process of coming home to myself, being honest and true to myself. Listening to my heart, and acting from those wise messages.  At the end of the year, I was overcome by gratitude, to all the people and forces surrounding me,  for having the chance, the luxury to have been able to do it in my way, at my own pace.

As the sun crept up into the sky on the first day of 2016,

I was sitting in meditation.

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Then I went back to bed for a few hours, as I had been out dancing and singing until 4am. 2015 dramatically changed the course of my life; so much happened in the course of 12 months, that I felt a completely new way to celebrate the new year was in order. I was surrounded by good friends, new and old, and my darling partner. We ate and drank, discussed things we wished to let go of in order to make room for all the gifts that 2016 would bring. Then we danced and sang into the early morning, played games and made new friends in a cozy club in Nagoya.

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If the way of starting the new year is any way to predict how the year will go, I am in for lots of joy, excitement, and fun with friends and my partner.
Creating My Vision for 2016
Continuing a practice I started last year, I will be making a Vision Board this month, on the New Moon day, January 10th in Japan. Luckily it is a Sunday, so a few friends will be getting together to share our energy and magazines to create our own individual visions for the year ahead.
For those of you who have never made one or seen one, I offer mine from 2015 as an example. I basically cut images from magazines, though in some cases used photographs or hand drawn images, to create my vision of how my life would be in 2015. I put specific images, for example yoga poses that I hoped to achieve or people who wanted to spend more time, teachers that I wanted to study with. As well, I added pictures of places I wanted to go, or more abstract images of how I wanted my life to feel; the atmosphere I wished to create.
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While the results do speak for themselves – I achieved the poses that I illustrated, studied with the teachers I included, found a partner who embodies all of the images that I used, and even wound up being hosted by a woman whose picture I added (totally unforeseen and WEIRD!!).
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2015 Challenge Pose Pincha Mayurasana- Achieved!

7 Realms of Your Vision for 2016

Here are some areas that can help you organize your vision for this year, that you could then illustrate in the vision board. It’s helpful to remember that all of these aspects are important to create a fulfilling and balanced life, so that we don’t get to stuck in only one or two areas. Just this step can be incredibly helpful for helping you clarify your vision, but I highly encourage you to illustrate your vision. It’s also just a lot of fun!
For each area, think of your:
1. goals, what you would like to achieve or maintain
2. how you will achieve these goals, what techniques, practices, steps you will take
A. Health and Body
B. Love and Relationship
C. Career and Work
D. Wealth
E. Family
F. Creative Pursuits
G. Quality of Life
Start collecting any images or words that you like NOW, that you find inspiring.
Looking back on last year’s list, I was not very specific. I encourage you to BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE – we are truly creating our vision, so there is no need to hold back. Make it as detailed and as great as you can imagine it.
Everything in our world, that humans have created, began as a thought, an idea in someone’s mind, before it was a material thing. If you cannot imagine it, you cannot create it. On the other hand, if you can imagine it, you can create it. Use the great energy of the New Year to create your best year yet. I am looking forward to sharing mine with you, and hearing about yours too.
Namaste,
Ali

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