• Heather Lilleston

NEW YEAR: RAISE THE STAKES AND STEP OUT ON THE RIGHT FOOT


Image from Pinterest

The time is always right to do what is right.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


A New Year always brings a similar feeling to the one I remember every time a new school year began. Somewhere inside myself, at the start of whatever grade was next for me, I repeatedly made (then didn’t keep) this internal promise that this year I was going to study a little bit every night so I wouldn’t cram before exams, I was going to exercise and wake up early (even if I was tired) and overall I was going to do the right thing by my teachers and friends and family. And yet, as the first few weeks passed by, the excuses rolled in and within a couple of months, I would be as I was before - cramming before a test, acting like a sassy teenager and debating with my mom over chores, and definitely not getting up early to exercise as I had once glorified myself as doing. 


Image from Pinterest

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way. 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


When you go through this cycle of broken promises, you start to wonder if this whole fantasy of someone who “has it all together” is worth investing in. Does the one month in January when you did the 30-day yoga challenge really mean anything when you follow it up with indulging yourself in the absolute opposite the rest of the year? What is actually realistic and how can our overall personal goals become sustainable? 


Image from Pinterest

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


What does it really mean to “start the year off right”? What is our gauge when we are wondering about whether something is right or wrong? 


As we are celebrating MLK, Jr.’s birthday, I decided to dig deep into the words of someone who knew sacrifice more than me, drive amidst heavier obstacles than I have ever faced, who more easily remembered love in the eyes of hate, and who cultivated fearlessness unlike I have ever known in the throngs of violence I never been exposed to. In reading his words, he seemed to bypass his own agenda and be driven by the very internal compass of what was necessary for the greater good, instead of his own moment-to-moment moods. 


I remember when I first started seriously meditating. I struggled with being consistent and sitting for an entire hour every day. My eyes would open and glance sneakily down at the timer. I would hold back in fidgeting until I finally remembered that no one was around to watch and I would adjust my seat. Only to realize that once you scratch that itch, it only becomes itchy-er and more desirable to scratch. Every time I felt like I was failing in my practice - not consistent enough, or under committed, or eventually just lazy and rebellious - I would ask my teachers how to get over this hump. 


Image from Pinterest

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


Their advice was that I simply needed to raise the stakes! It was easy to fidget and get distracted in meditation when it was only for my benefit. If it was just about me feeling better - and frankly sitting for an hour in stillness can be pretty uncomfortable at first - then of course I would shy away from it or eventually fall of the wagon - it wasn’t comfortable to begin with. 


What I needed to get over the hump - to leap from one part of myself into a much grander, more disciplined and focused part - the same part I had set out to discover at the start of every school year - and the part we often set out to discover at the beginning of every new year - is a motivation that mattered much more than my personal comfort did - even to me. A reason to sit in meditation that was going to give me the ability to sit through the uncomfortable because I saw the grander purpose of what sitting could offer. 


I always say that suffering is the GREAT MOTIVATOR. We don’t fix our diets until we get bad skin, or gain weight, or feel bloated. We don’t usually up our exercise routine unless we feel slumpy or get sick. We don’t seek spirituality until we experience grief or loss or heartbreak, and end up on our knees, humble and asking for guidance. We need things to be hard to do the work to transform. 


My teachers told me to read the paper and watch the news. Look directly at the suffering in the world. Look directly at the people who are hungry, homeless, living amongst war and strife and violence. Then to consider that meditation could help bring insights into my mind and heart that could clear a path to how I could help. To how my life could contribute to the healing of the world in some way. 


In reading Mr. King’s words, I realized he never looked away from injustice and always held a clear vision of justice and peace. And that is why he stepped out on the right foot.


Who cares about the new year - aka Jan. 1 - in the end. Every day is a chance to start on the right foot. To recall a higher motivation and to let it push you. To let it guide you into the unknown, to leap into the uncomfortable, towards the levels of focus and discipline that you know exist somewhere inside you. Laziness and personal comfort are often the most dangerous elements to reaching our highest goals. Raise the stakes and you will have the motivation to leap and eventually become whatever your greatest vision contains. 


Image from Pinterest

Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.



To view related posts, click on the relevant hashtags below:


#ICBRKR #BRKTHEMOLD #SOCIALNETWORKING #WELLNESS #HEALTH #MEDITATION #YOGA #YOGAFORBADPEOPLE

62 views

DOWNLOAD ICBRKR APP