Your 2011 Year in Review

New Years Yoga Class in Concord

Before we turn the page on 2011… Let’s take stock.

No need to get too-heavy here, just acknowledging how far we’ve come, and where we’d like to go. It’s best to keep this somewhat lighter, and fun.

Carve out 20 – 40 minutes for this meditation & writing exercise:

Make a cup of tea, get a nice pen, three pieces of paper, and a pad of post-its. Find a quiet place where you can sit.

Light a candle, and get comfortable. Let your breath smooth out and slide into meditation for a few minutes…

Once in quiet – creative space, reflect on your experience of 2011. Let your mind drift through the past year, the milestones that have passed, the highs and lows. Let it all come. Breathe.

Embrace the whole of where you are at in your life right now. Acceptance and appreciation of now, is the base-camp for your journey into 2012.

In bold letters, title the first piece of paper:

What I’m leaving behind in 2011.

Inhale….Exhale… Start writing… Don’t stop, judge, or filter in any way. Get it onto the page. What are you so-done with? What will not survive the strike of midnight on December 31st?

Explore the facets of your life. Home, career, relationships, (might need more paper!) health, behaviors. Then get into the energetics. List your done-with fears, doubts, hesitations, and grudges… No, you won’t have to read this aloud in class. Keep going.

Have you been unkind or hurt anyone? Apologize. Has anyone treated you unkindly – unfairly? Forgive them. Make amends, Make your peace.

List your disappointments, and how you’ve disappointed others. Where are you kidding yourself?

(Breathe) Are you still carrying that bad habit? You know the one, the one you said you were done with last year. Go ahead and write it down. These ripples end here…

Phew. Still with me? great. Onward.

In bold letters across the top of the second sheet, write:

How i’ve grown and what I’ve learned in 2011.

What has living through 2011 revealed to you? What have you accomplished in the different areas of your life? how have you grown, what have you’ve learned, especially those tougher lessons.

(breathe, steady and evenly) What obstacles have you overcome… what have you gained? Where have you surprised yourself in your strength?

What are the important changes you’ll bring forward into the new year. What are the high points, peak moments, sweet memories you’ll savor?

Take some time with this, We’ll squeeze every last bit of goodness from 2011 before moving on. These waves live on.

These ripples will live on

You’re doing great. Keep going!

Here’s where it gets fun. Label the third sheet:

I’m happy – healthy and thriving in 2012.

How would envision your ideal life. Again, ponder the facets of your lifeRelationships, work, creativity, your home, finances, health, your Yoga practice…

Write in positive and present tense, like it is already your reality, How will you feel? Describe in detail your day, from rising after a great nights sleep, your meditation, your breakfast… to the work you will do, to the beauty you’ll experience, all the way to tucking yourself in… (Or being tucked in?) content and slipping off into peaceful sleep.

Take a break, sip some tea, then meditate on this visualization, allow it to saturate you.

let a word or simple phrase of summary come to you.. One that sums up this direction you’d like to move in, this quality you’d like to see more of.

Write this theme, Your Mantra for the coming year – nicely on your post-it note.

FInish your tea, slide back into meditation for a few minutes before rising.

Bring your first sheet, and your candle outdoors, or to your fireplace where you can safely burn the list. Make a ritual of this, as your paper turns to ash, state:

I _______ release these qualities and experiences from my life…. and shed these anchors for real. So be it, cause I said so, Swaha!

The second and third lists you’ll read once more, then tuck away. Reflect on them in in a month or two, You just may need a refresher to get back on track.

Stick the post-it Mantra on your bathroom mirror, or a place where it will be the last thing you see before you go to sleep, the first thing you see before starting your day. Read it while you brush your teeth, ponder it for the full two minutes.

Putting pen to paper, and writing intentions seems to work. We leap from, “I might want to think about maybe making this change someday, to “I’m doing this!” For more on these practices of writing down our intentions, check out the book: Write it down – Make it Happen.

It’s been quite a journey for me this year, and I created this writing practice to lighten up, and be more open to the currents of creativity.

Much water has passed under the bridge as they say, and I’ve learned much through love and loss, bliss, good-fortune, and hardship. I have so much to be grateful for – and joyful about.

Not just on New Years, but each day I resolve to do my best. To show up, stay open and love fearlessly, to dust myself off after spectacular failures of my best whole-hearted efforts, and keep going.

I’ll stay in awe of the beauty of the little things in life, and open wide to possibility.

I will try not to be deterred or taken off course by the callousness, doubts, and fears of others. I’ll not limit myself through fear or hesitation, and will lean into uncertainty.

I love the quote about taking the leap… and growing wings on the way down, by Kurt Vonnegut. I know, dramatic, but hey, I’m on a roll here! And I’ve leapt, so he would surely approve.

Of the thousands who will read this post in the next few days, how many will actually try the exercise? It’s up to you.. Nobody can do it for you. But I plead with you, I challenge you. Get three pieces of paper and invest some time in You. Here’s a printable version for you: Year in review pdf

The people who count on you – are counting on you.

If you have a partner, a family, do it for them. If you’re single, do it for the next person you’ll be in a relationship with. You’ll be clearer, lighter, more open to possibility. I’ll bet you’ll feel it in your asana practice.

You count, you matter, you’re worth this effort. You can make a difference.

it just doesn’t have to be like it was yesterday.

Look around, you are surrounded by people who love you. Will you love them back? open all your doors and let the light in. Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya.

I look forward to practicing with you all in the New Year. I’ll be teaching our New Years Day class at 9am.

On January 8th, Clarence returns with his gorgeous cello to shake our bones while we practice. Wait till you hear and feel what we’ve been creating together!

There’s no place I’d rather be, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing, so many thanks for your support.

Please forward this to a friend? click the like button, or tweet…  Imagine if we all introspected regularly.

May all beings be happy and free. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti…


p.s. by the way, ‘Onward’ is my post-it Mantra for this year. What is yours?


10 thoughts on “Your 2011 Year in Review”

  1. I liked your idea….as I gear up to write on my 3 sheets, I like a lot of these thoughts for 2012 goals…

    Compliment three people every day.
    Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
    Have a firm handshake.
    Look people in the eye.
    Say “thank you” a lot; write thank-you notes promptly.
    Take time to listen to your favorite music all alone once each week.
    Sing along with songs that you like.
    Stand at attention and put your hand over my heart when singing the National Anthem.
    Learn to identify the music of Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven.
    Be the first to say “hello.”
    Return all things you borrow.
    Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated
    Remember that miracles happen every day.
    Show respect for teachers, for the police, and for elders.
    Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade”; instead learn the trade.
    Control your temper.
    Put things back where they belong.
    Be grateful for all labor saving appliances.
    Enjoy beautiful things; always have something beautiful in sight.
    Smile a lot; smile at someone once each hour for one full day.
    Take responsibility for everything that you do or fail to do.
    Accept a compliment with a simple “thank you.”
    Live so that when others think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.
    Use your sense of humor to amuse, not abuse.
    Dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.”
    Be brave; even if you’re not, pretend to be, because no one can tell the difference.
    Touch the ones you love.
    Don’t take good health and your body for granted.
    Choose friends carefully; we influence each other greatly.
    Make it a habit to do nice things for people who’ll never find out.
    Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.
    Go for a walk alone at least once a week.
    Never cheat.
    Put a marshmallow in your hot chocolate.
    Learn the CPR changes.
    Learn to listen; opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.
    Remember people’s names.
    When people are relating an important event that happened to them, don’t try to top them with a story of your own; let them have the stage.
    Be on time.
    Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.
    Strive for excellence, not perfection.
    Avoid negative people.
    Be neat.
    Realize that the person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.
    Be kinder than necessary.
    Give people a second chance, but not a third.
    Never take action when you’re angry.
    Battle against prejudice or discrimination wherever I find it.
    Wear out, don’t rust out.
    Let people know what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for.
    Ask why.
    Measure people by the size of their heart.
    Become the most positive person you know.
    Have good posture.
    Enter a room with purpose and confidence.
    Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
    Show respect for all living things.
    Loosen up, relax.
    Commit to constant self-improvement.
    Remember that being a good loser is different than not caring about losing.
    Don’t major in minor things.
    Praise in public, criticize in private.
    When someone hugs me, let him or her be the first to let go.
    Know that good manners matter.
    Keep promises; promise and deliver.
    Save some money each week.
    Recognize that you only have one chance to make a first impression.
    Respect tradition.
    Wave to children on a school bus.
    Show respect for others’ time.
    Hang out with people smarter than you.
    Be modest.
    Lie on your back and watch the clouds or the stars.
    Remember that overnight success takes about three years.
    Leave everything a little better than you found it.
    Think of what you would change in yourself, then change it.
    Realize how you affect others.
    Practice empathy; try to see things from other people’s point of view.
    Learn to say “no” politely.
    Don’t expect life to be fair.
    Never underestimate the power of forgiveness.
    Don’t say I don’t have enough time; you have exactly the same number of hours as everyone does.
    If you think have no time to work out, do push-ups.
    Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do.
    Check the smoke detector’s batteries.
    Live life with an exclamation, not an explanation.
    Live so that when you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than those you did.
    Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
    Never eat the last cookie.
    Be grateful and acknowledge those who help you.
    Take charge of your attitude; don’t let someone else choose it for you.
    Pay attention to details.
    Be a self-starter.
    Pay your fair share.
    Remain curious about your ability.
    When attending meetings, sit up front.
    Don’t litter.
    Don’t flaunt your success, but don’t apologize for it either.
    Don’t procrastinate; do it now.
    Always do more than the minimum, even if no one will know.
    Waste no opportunities, because they can never be regained.
    Ask yourself, “Will this help me become my very best?”
    Remember that quitters never win and winners never quit.
    Believe that the future belongs to those who prepare for it.
    Assure success through persistence and determination.

  2. Hi John,
    Thank you so much for your amazing classes this year. My intention for the year is
    a regular practice. Loved the year end exercise, very powerful. My mantra is “act”, as in, take action.

    Wishing you joy.

  3. Had this long mantra that I could not summarize till just now. Placing this comment.

    “Full Circle”

    – finding OM to bring you back – once more – ride the waves of compassion along the crest till it crashes – float along in surrender, guided by the winds of grace – embracing the journey of loving, in unison with the vibration of the universe – getting lost at just the right moment – finding OM to bring you back – once more – ride the waves…….

    Passed this exercise on to a number of folks. Thank you for this gift!

  4. “Believe” is the mantra that met me after finishing this. Believe in yourself. Believe in the possible. By the end of the year, I’ll have 365 phrases using my mantra.

  5. Hi John!

    If your post-it Mantra this year is “onward” then you must immerse yourself in the glowing beauty of the song “Onward” by Yes. Links and lyrics below.

    Thanks for everything. Hope to see you in class more often in 2012!

    Happy new year,

    Original studio version:

    Live version:


    Contained in everything I do
    There’s a love I feel for you
    Proclaimed in everything I write
    You’re the light, burning brightly

    Onward through the night
    Onward through the night
    Onward through the night of my life

    Displayed in all the things I see
    There’s a love you show to me
    Portrayed in all the things you say
    You’re the day leading the way

    Onward through the night
    Onward through the night
    Onward through the night of my life

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