As I sit here on the first morning of the New Year, watching and hearing a new flock of geese landing in the lake to rest for the day, I cannot help but marvel at the simplicity of it all. My awareness of the simple things has been heightened over the final two weeks of December in various ways.
The first of the two weeks led me to vacation with the family in the Caribbean among sunrises, ocean tides, sandcastles, the full moon and much more. There were many hours of one on one time with family members, family conversations over dinner, and simply sitting around in each others energies while doing nothing.
I had the opportunity to experience some deeper-than-usual meditations, read some books, learn bits of Spanish, and immerse in the peace of the locals. And yes, there were the extraordinary long walks on the beach, some moments of which I shared through photos with all of you.
I did not bring back a single souvenir other than the sense of how deeply we are connected to the elements — a connection that often tends to gets lost in rush and noise of our daily lives. It is difficult to describe what happens within you when you watch the sunrises over the sea for seven straight mornings while the ocean roars at your feet, as you walk the beach watching the seagulls and pelicans gliding over the water, and the glistening of the reflections cast by the sun and the full moon.
Words cannot do simplicity justice for they can only attempt to describe the mind’s construct of thoughts and rarely capture the imprints on the heart. Perhaps there is a better way to preserve and grow such beautiful and rare moments of connection with nature, even when we are not in its presence on the beaches of the world?
This was the question that I asked myself in the final week of the year when time seemed to be passing in ultra-slow-motion. One answer that emerged was from the Yoga Sutras of Â Patanjali, which describes four practices that can help to simplify our life by purifying our mind and heart.
Be kind to those suffering – practice Karuna or kindness.
Be joyful in the joy of others – practice Mudita or joyfulness.
Be friendly to those who are friendly towards you – practice Maitri or friendliness.
Be accepting towards those with malicious intent – practice Upeksha or acceptance.
These four simple practices can become the guideposts for our life’s journey. And yet, so often, we run into challenges with one or more of them on a daily basis, don’t we? Can you relate to any of these practices that are a challenge for you?
The invitation of simplicity is simple, but the acceptance and practice of it is often made complex by our mind-thought-word-action system of living. We know that simplicity can be as simple as giving free reign to the heart, and yet we often walk away from it as we stay entangled with the mind and its complexities.
Perhaps the advent of the New Year can help bring us closer to simplicity, as we accept its invitation, one day at a time. Maybe we can say yes to four simple practices – to kindness, to joyfulness, to friendliness, and to acceptance.
P.S. Join us in our weekly gathering with the #SpiritChat community on twitter, Sunday January 2 2022 at 9amET / 730pm India. We will consider the invitation of simplicity as we step into the New Year. Namaste – @AjmaniK