Lessons from a New Year Half-Mala

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I started 2022 in a way I haven’t started a year since 2014: with yoga. I used to practice a half-mala, comprised of 54 Series A Sun Salutes, at the start of every year. This year, vacationing with my family, I had intended to attend a morning yoga class while my husband took the kids for donuts.

Welcome, Omicron, and the cancelling of everything we had planned for our trip. Rather than a NYE night out dancing while a babysitter watched our kids, we smoked pot and watched Dune on a laptop in our villa while the kids slept on the pullout sofa in the living room. Rather than a trip to the local petting zoo, we hit the beach to dig in the sand. And, rather than attend a yoga class, I was left to my own devices in a 49 degree hotel courtyard.

We drove an hour to vacation and went to the beach. We played the same games we play when we walk the 6 minutes to our local beach.

It was – all of it – blissful. Our NYE in had me feeling cozy and restored. Our beach day was soul filling. And my yoga practice was much warmer than I could have imagined at the start.

I grabbed my kids’ popsicle sticks. Tip: bring a tin of popsicle sticks whenever you travel. The tin itself will become all manner of things. Santa’s sleigh, an oven, a mailbox, a safe. The popsicle sticks will transform into money, keys, tickets, food … and Covid test nasal swabs. Because our kids are growing up in 2022, pretending 2022 events.

I selected 9 standard popsicle sticks and one big, yellow, ceremony popsicle sticks. I set them at the top of my mat, and I began. At the completion of each salutation, I moved one plain popsicle stick from one corner of my mat to the other. After 9 rounds, I moved the ceremony stick.

As the practice evolved, I began making patterns with the sticks that I now realize mimicked the patterns in my body.

Cold enough to wear thick socks for my mala.

I’d hoped for a cathartic practice that would reveal my intentions for the year. I thought I may cry. I longed for that experience of such full breath work that I lost my place in my identity.

I got a warm, pleasant practice. And that’s okay.

Not every trip we take meets our highest expectations for the extraordinary adventure we planned. Not every practice becomes the one that changes our trajectory. Not every meditation is deeply transformative. Sometimes, it’s popsicle sticks, just changing shapes and uses, in a very ordinary way to mimic our very ordinary lives.

This is one of the secrets to slow living. Find joy in the ordinary. Exhalt the ordinary. Celebrate the tiniest mutation of a popsicle stick as much as you lament over the mutation of a virus.

Snuck a meditation practice on the patio by our fire.

My 2022 half mala was just another yoga practice in a hotel courtyard. My 2022 may be just another year in the life of an over-touched mom of two toddlers in a townhouse in a row of similar townhouses. May I be so lucky.