Friday, January 7, 2011

Living in the Fullness of Time

Sitting here on the cusp of 2011, I have been contemplating what the shift in a calendar year means and the traditions that surround it. I believe (and regularly partake) in the practice of setting intentions, yet I have long felt a subtle resistance to the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, though until recently I hadn’t spent the time to identify and articulate what it was that I was uncomfortable with.

In my understanding, setting a New Year’s Resolution starts from a place of feeling not good enough, essentially of being in a place of lack. So the message seems to be that we need to do something — lose x # of pounds, study harder, eat more vegetables, etc. — to be better. In yoga, we begin instead with the premise that we are already worthy just because we are alive. Our deepest nature is innate worthiness. Worth is not something that anyone can give or take away from us, and it is not something that we can achieve through dieting, going to the gym, studying, etc.. We already have it. Rather than making ourselves somehow better through our yoga practice, we instead use our practice to uncover and realize our own true nature more fully.

I have noticed, too, that resolutions are also often about starting from a clean slate — wiping away the previous year and starting fresh in the new year — and this relationship to time feels discordant to me. In yoga, there is a beautiful concept — kalapurnata — which means “the fullness of time.” Kala comes from Kali, who is known as the goddess of time and change, and purna, which means “fullness” or “abundance.” To live in kalapurnata means to live fully in past, present, and future all at once.

So, rather than wiping away 2010 and starting with a clean slate, we look back on the year and see what we can learn from it. And all of the experiences from the year are worthwhile — even the places where we stepped out of alignment and perhaps said or did things that we wish we hadn’t. Those experiences are also teachers and when we reflect on them mindfully and consciously, we can use them to inform our present and our future. We remember our past and use it to act mindfully in our present and to consider what lies ahead.

Why does this matter? Now, more than ever, the earth needs us to be fully awake and to be living consciously from *all* of our experiences. To use our past to live mindfully in our present, with an eye to the future, is to be thoughtful of ourselves and considerate of one another and respectful of the impact our choices will have on future generations.

Seventh generation sustainability is an ecological concept that originated with the Iroquois — The Great Law of the Iroquois — that urges humans to think about the impact their current decisions will have on the seventh generation in the future. To do that is to realize that we are so much greater than just ourselves, to realize that our choices do matter and will affect not just others in our immediate sphere but people who come after us much further in the future.

To live in kalapurnata is to be aware that we live in a continuum of time, that we can never wipe away the year gone by (nor do we want to!). I invite you to look back on 2010 and take it all in — swallow it and assimilate it all, let it become a part of you. And from that place, look forward to 2011. Keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and it will then be possible to live fully in kalapurnata in the present.

I wish to thank all of my teachers and friends for the giftss of wisdom and guidance that have contributed to my offering of this writing. Most especially here, I would like to thank Amy Ippoliti for introducing me to the concept of kalapurnata and my dear friend Lizzy Tyler for her reminders to always begin from a place of fullness and worth.

Questions for further contemplation:
* What were your greatest teachings of 2010?
* In what moments or experiences did you feel in clear alignment? How do you want to bring that forward with you into 2011?
* In what moments or experiences did you feel out of alignment? How do you want to use that to inform what you do in 2011?
* What would it look like for you to live in kalapurnata as you enter the new year?

Written by Kendra Hodgson

Check out Kendra's classes at YS and learn more about her at

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