Usui Retreat - December 21, 2006

Bird calls

Present with bird calls
We fly together
Beyond spaciousness
and words....,


Rather than giving you three different meditations this retreat. I have decided to give you some areas to focus on and work through. I like to think of it as spiritual weeding the garden time in order to plant new flowers for next year. Perhaps your mind is saying that you do not have time to do this or that you want to wait until after the retreat that is fine. We live in exciting and fast times however, doing this is a great gift that you give yourself; and you are worth doing the work for.

Annual Life Review

At the end of every year I do a annual life review to see how much of my energy is devoted to what makes me feel alive and also on the things that drain my energy that do not support me.

For a long time I have felt that the winter months have been given to us so that we can take the time to go more inside of ourselves. Just as in the winter when the branches on the trees are bare, the life is deep inside the branch. By being inside ourselves and taking the time to review our lives we can then make internal and external changes, because we see that the old structure, beliefs or time spent that does not nourish us and is not what we want or need. We then can move forward in a new year which is filled with promises that we can keep.

In cultures through out the world people make a resolution for the New Year to bring about change. Often times this may be the resolution to lose the extra weight that we seem to put on with all the Christmas cookies and rich food we eat during the holiday time. We begin the year full of good intentions and ending up mentally beating ourselves up because we did not keep our promises. I went through that for many years until I started doing the annual life review. With this information I could see and feel the necessity for change and move into those changes out of a strong desire to live my life in a different way.

So I have decided to share the process of the annual life review with you. Perhaps you will want to take the time to answer these questions. It is worth regularly spending time on the exercise. Be careful to distinguish what YOU want from what your family, friends or partner think you should want. Bear in mind that we can keep changing our goals, but unless we have a destination in mind, we are unlikely to set off on the journey at all.

Make a list of any activities that make you feel really alive, activities that absorb you so that time seems to dissolve, or which give you a sense of inner peace and satisfaction. What do you really enjoy? What makes your heart glow and your spirit dance? IS it a walk in the forest, gardening, reading a novel, and writing poetry? Listening to music, chatting with friends, and painting, jogging, making love or traveling to new places? Perhaps it is doing charity work or playing with children? Could it be certain aspects of your job? Which PEOPLE make you feel good? Make sure the list is based upon how you feel now, not upon what you used to enjoy, or think you should enjoy, or what other people like to do.

Next make a second list of any activities (or People) which deaden or deplete you, which leave you feeling tired, board or under stress.

Now assess how much of your life is devoted to each list. Does this reflect how "alive" or "dead" you feel? How might you begin to change the balance so that you feel more and more energized?

2) Review your life, and where it is going:
* What are your secret ambitions (large and small)?
* What are your strengths, talents and abilities?
* What does, or would, give your life meaning and purpose?
* What personal qualities do you wish to develop?
* What is your ideal lifestyle?
* What do you wish to experience in life?
* What do you need- physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
* Is your work (whether paid or unpaid) just a way of paying the rent, or is it important to you as a person?
* Are you learning and growing in everyday life?
* Is your life challenging enough? Relaxing enough? Loving enough?
* If you knew you only had five years to live, what would you do?

Remind yourself that: this is not a dress rehearsal for life. This is IT! How do you want to create your life now?

What you can do, or dream you can, begin it: Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

The other part of the annual review that I do at the end of the year is to undertake a process that I learned in the "Life Training" program. I write down a list of all the people I have had a judgment about, or not forgiven for something. In fact anyone I have had the least amount of ill will towards. Beside each name I write the result of this action (payoff) and how I have behaved, it could be one of the following or more: victim, superior, confused and what was the cost of holding on to this anger, resentment or pain in terms of my own energy, how has this situation affected me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I allow my self to feel the pain of separation, the cost of being so right in my judgments.

Then I write a letter to each person and tell them how I have reacted. I take full responsibility for my part in any and all of the situations and I ask for their forgiveness, while also forgiving them for what I think they have done to me. If it is possible I go and speak to them face to face and to be heart to heart. Wiping the slate clean, putting forgiveness where there was judgment, light where there was darkness.

Your mind may be saying that it is nearly impossible to do any of this, but it is not impossible. I had thoughts like that myself the first time I did this review, but soon realized how much better I felt and how much clearer my life seemed to be afterwards. It had been worth all the effort so that the past was truly past. The future is ahead and I am in this moment in the NOW.

The beauty and power and the joy in life is not in what happens, it is in the motion, in the movement, and in the constant process of change. Joy is the incredible dance of life. We always know what the next step of our lives should be; which area of our lives needs to be resolved, and where we need to find the courage and self love to start moving.

I encourage you to stop dragging your past along with you as you try to create a future. It is almost time to make those New Years Resolutions for 2007. Take the time to stop and review your life and make the changes necessary so that you can truly enjoy the dance of life and all the pleasure life brings.

Looking forward to being with you next week……I would love to hear what you discovered and how you were feeling.

Love, Mari

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