IMG_1513 Dear friends and family,

It is the time of year when many of us are thinking about new year’s resolutions and setting intentions. In the midst of all this, can we consider embracing the life we have right now?
Take a few moments to find a little stillness and presence in this moment, to get in touch with what matters most for you in 2016. Find a comfortable seat. Take a deep breath as you roll your shoulders forward, up and back down as you exhale. Do this a couple of more times. Bring your awareness into your body. The purpose of this body scan mindfulness exercise is simply to notice your body. It is not necessarily about relaxing your body, however this may occur as a side effect. It is simply about being aware of your body in this present moment.
Starting with your feet, pay attention to the physical feelings in them: any pain, discomfort, coolness, warmth, tension, tightness, whatever you feel. Simply pay attention to the physical feelings and sensations. If thoughts intrude while doing this exercise that’s okay – just notice the thoughts, notice yourself noticing the thoughts and gently guide your awareness back to your body. Slowly allow your awareness to drift up from your feet to your lower legs, again simply paying attention to any physical sensations in that part of your body, including any tightness, pain or discomfort. Then slowly let your awareness drift further up your body, doing the same gentle noticing for all of the parts of your body – your upper legs, hips, buttocks, pelvic region, stomach, chest, your lower back, upper back, fingers and hands, lower arms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, your head, forehead, temples, face,  eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth and jaw.
Now let your awareness drift gently and slowly back down your body, noticing any other places where there is pain, discomfort or tension and simply noticing this, until your awareness settles back at your feet.
Research suggests that contemplating your mortality can help to improve physical health, promote pro-social behavior, prompt positive change and re-prioritize goals and values.

Research shows that at the end of life, people often wish they had done some things differently. And research suggests that doing things differently now will not only delay your death, but also make you a healthier and happier person right now.
Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying (data recorded by hospice workers):
1. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
2. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
3. “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
4. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self.”
5. “I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams instead of doing what others expected of me.”
This information sheds light on what it really means to live a good life. If we are to live well, we will need to evaluate how we are currently living and deliberately pursue the things which will lead us to the most valuable goals, purpose, friendship and happiness.
The following meditation on impermanence is meant to attune you to the impermanence of things – not as a depressing fact, but as a way to remember what is ultimately the most important to you.
Again, sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths.
  • Let your mind settle on the fact that you are of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old. Perhaps picture yourself with a lot of wrinkles and gray hair if you are younger.
  • You are of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
  • The fact that death isn’t just some abstract concept. It’s a tangible reality that you confront every moment of your life.
  • All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  • You may not have many tomorrows.  How do you want to spend your time today?
  • Your actions are your only true belongings. You cannot escape the consequences of your actions.
  • There will be a last moment of your life.
Focusing on these thoughts for even a few minutes a day is helpful.
Thank you for being part of my life and the community. I am grateful for you being here. I wish you and your’s a joyful new year’s eve and a 2016 filled with peace, presence and joy.
A beautiful inner intention by Diane Ackerman:
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.