Dear friends, students, teachers, and neighbors,
As a kid, I always looked forward to Hanukkah (what kid doesn't want to eat fried potato pancakes and get eight presents and money is made out of chocolate?) But it wasn't until this year that the holiday deeply resonated with me.
The word Hanukkah means "dedication," as in the re-dedication of the temple after it was rebuilt. Sometimes I go to a physical temple, but these days I've also come to recognize how I build a temple for myself on an ongoing basis: my life, my work, my relationships. How do I remember to stay grounded and connected in these areas so that I'm doing my best to live my practice in every moment? For me, it's meditation practice and study, and the influence of friends, loved ones, community, and teachers. So I wanted to offer the candle-lighting as a moment of gratitude, holding in my mind someone who inspired me or raised me up in some way; someone whose presence or work has a healing effect; someone who brings joy. This year, each night when I lit a new candle, I dedicated that candle to a person who has been, for me, a light in a time of darkness.
I thought of past and present teachers, friends, family, artists, writers, and students. It made me feel glad to realize how many inspiring people there are in this world. Sometimes it's hard to remember this. It's so easy to get caught up in stress and what's wrong, so easy to fall into old habits. But I think we all know at least one person, living or dead, close to us or far away, who even in some small way brings light to this world. And, each of us in our own way is that person for someone else.
I feel very grateful for how my meditation practice grounds me, on a daily basis, in the values that I hope to embody in my thoughts, words, and deeds, so that I might be a light for myself and others.
So here's an aspiration for 2016: may our practice of mindfulness, awareness, and compassion benefit ourselves and others by helping us better care for ourselves and others; may it help us find ways to connect with our values, make meaning, and learn in every moment of our lives.
I want to thank you all for a wonderful year of practice, and I hope you'll join me in 2016. I'm looking forward to another year with even more offerings: MBSR courses, online courses, retreats, drop-in classes, and more space for private students.
As the year turns over, may you be happy and peaceful.