There are two common themes in my life and teaching as I enter 2017: Self-Mastery and Radical Action.

By Self-mastery I mean learning how to direct the mind to serve the higher needs of our heart and soul. In this state, one is more connected, present,creative, fulfilled and radiant.

By radical action I mean actions that take us out of conditioned behavior and toward a new and refined level of self-expression. Radical action mean stepping out of our comfort zone. They require courage because often by taking them we face our fear of the unknown.

This recent train of thought and action is, in part, inspired by a line from thebeautiful poem known as Japji or ‘Meditation of the Soul.’

“Ay panthay sagal jamaatay man jeetay jag jayt”

“Meet everyone as your highest brothers and your highest sisters, conquer your own mind to conquer the world.”

At this time when many are feeling separateness and experiencing fear of an unknown future: this verse holds two valuable keys. The recognition of all as our highest brothers and sisters includes our loved ones AND those who have differing values. We must look beyond our own prejudices and seek to connect heart to heart with those who may directly oppose our views. We seek common ground and a way to recognize our shared humanity. One of the definitions of conquer is ‘to successfully overcome.’ In the case of the line of Japji quoted above, it is to successfully overcome the distracted tendency of the mind. As the saying goes, ‘The mind is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.’ Self-mastery is intimately connected to our ability to make the mind into a devoted servant of our heart and soul.

In order for this to happen, we need to become keen observers of the mind’s tendencies, and we do this through meditation. We learn which thoughts are repetitive, which are helpful or unhelpful and most importantly, we learn how to positively direct the mind. As we navigate difficult political and personal challenges, may we be ambassadors of a new wave of consciousness. Let us not look to blame others, but rather direct our attention inward toward our own Truth. Let us take radical actions that express love, connection, forgiveness and an underlying gratitude and respect for life.