“Eight Soulful New Year’s Resolutions Everyone can Achieve”
By: Forrest Rivers
Start a daily meditation practice-Besides reducing anxiety and stress, meditation helps us deeply connect to our inner most spirit. It also helps break down the walls of separation that keeps us mired in illusion. There is no “correct” way to meditate but the best times to do so are either in the morning when you wake up or sometime in the evening after your day’s work is done.
Volunteer in your community-Mystics of every faith have long celebrated the spirit of service as one of the surest paths to awakening. There are numerous opportunities to serve in this period of pandemic-related suffering. Volunteer at your local food bank, deliver groceries to the elderly, or enlist as a mentor.
Set the intention to engage in at least one act of kindness each day-the benefit of this one is obvious. The world simply needs more kind people!
Keep a daily gratitude journal-Each night before you go to bed write at least two to three things that you were grateful for in that day. You will immediately notice how this practice helps you adopt a more positive mindset
Get out into nature at least 3-4 times per week—nature is the light that fills all darkness. In nature we can’t help but feel connected to the supreme source of living truth and wisdom. Go take a walk in your local city park, go hiking in the woods (if you have woods near to you) go swimming or paddling in the river or ocean.
Find a creative outlet-Creative expression is the soul’s natural expression of joy and spiritual release. Learn an instrument, pick up a paintbrush or write some poetry while on a walk-in nature!
Plant a Garden-Nothing says soulful like growing your own food and vegetables. Plus, gardening gets you outside and fosters a state of communion with the Earth like no other.
Join a community(sangha or satsang) of spiritual seekers-The benefits of joining a spiritual community (even virtually) are many. The great and late spiritual teacher, Baba Ram Dass, said it best in his delightful book Be Love Now, when describing the beauty of his own sangha centered around the great Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba(also known as Mararajii:) “It’s as if Maharajji has been my father or mother forever, and the satsang, the circle of devotees, is a family of the heart that keeps coming and going, having reunions and going away. Over many lifetimes, we all have different guises and costumes and appear on stage in different scenes playing different characters. We’re all parts of the jigsaw puzzle of each other’s karma.”
“Pay It Forward” (A Life Lesson from the Ganja Shop)
****This story occured before COVID-19 so no social distancing rules were violated!
It was the start of a typical evening along the Colorado Front Range. Rush hour traffic was unbearable due to multiple car accidents caused by impatient drivers. Understandably, I felt a bit antsy from this hair-raising commute. So, I did the only sensible thing any 420-inclined person might do in a legal state: I stopped at my favorite ganja shop for some much-needed herbal relief! As I made my way into the shop, I was greeted by my favorite bud tender with a hug and smiles. Who wouldn’t be happy in a weed shop! After a few minutes of friendly banter with my grateful host, I motioned toward the pre-rolled joints in the back of the room and inquired about their cost. My beloved bud-tender smiled and said it was $ 11.50 after tax. I reached into my wallet and pulled out $ 7.50. I was clearly short. You know the look children give when they are denied candy by their parents? Well, that is how my face must have appeared to everyone around me. I didn’t have enough cash to buy my favorite green candy!
Since I was a well-liked regular, my bud-tender succeeded in cutting a dollar off the cost. However, I was still $ 3.00 short to make the purchase. Then, suddenly, at the very moment that I was prepared to walk out the door a young man emerged from the back of the shop and handed me $ 3.00. Stoner Heaven! I turned to the man and introduced myself. We then exchanged hugs and I turned to my bud-tender friend and said: “See, that man is a shining example of how world peace will one day be achieved. It won’t come through the brokered “peace” of nation states but rather through the generous acts of individuals”. For several moments, the two of us talked excitedly about the beautiful concept of “pay it forward.”
Three days later, with the interaction from the dispensary still fresh in my mind, I spotted a homeless man on the side of the road. I introduced myself to him and we started talking as two brother souls. As I came to find out, this person was an inspiring being who had fallen on rough times in the wake of a recent break up. He had dedicated much of his previous adult life to protecting the Earth from corporate predators and he had a deep faith in the Universe. I handed him $ 7.00 and promised that the next time I saw him I would bring him a copy of the Upanishads, a sacred Hindu text that was also dear to his heart. While driving home, I thought of the power of “pay it forward”. I then smiled real wide as I acknowledged the fitting setting of my training in this practice…the ganja shop!