New Year Self-Evaluation, Mercury Retrograde

by Guru Rattana, Ph.D. - Issue #57, January 2, 2003

Happy, Healthy, Harmonious and Honorable New Year to everyone!

If you couldn't quite get into the gung-ho New Year spirit New Year's Day, there is more to it than staying up too late or suffering from a hangover. Capricorn greets us with a New Moon, Thursday January 2, at 12:22pm PST (8:22pm GMT). There is more pensive and less active energy available 2-3 days before the New Moon. So relax. No need to rush into those New Year's resolutions. It is best to begin them on the day of the New Moon.

For those of you starting new meditations in the morning, the first morning after the New Moon is best, so that means Friday the 3rd. But for those who have already started, go with the flow. You can start recounting on the 2nd or 3rd or just keep going. We make these observations to help us align our energy with universal energies, not to make us rich. A student came to class last night all enthusiastic about having started Divine Mother Meditation two days earlier (See page 163 Transitions to a Heart Centered World, 2nd Edition).(8) From his enthusiasm I could tell he had picked the exact right time to launch his jo urney into the divine feminine.

And guess what else? Mercury goes retrograde Thursday, January 2 at 10:19am PST. No wonder we feel time has stopped. The Mercury time clock is stationary New Year's day as it slows down to turn direction for the next three weeks. Yes, three whole weeks until it moves forward in direct motion, Wednesday January 22, at 5:08pm PST.

Wow! We have three whole weeks to think about our lives and figure out our intentions for 2003. We have another week and a half before the New Moon in Aquarius, February 1, which is also the Chinese New Year - Year of the Goat. Very fitting this year, that we have from Winter Solstice December 21 through January 19, while the Sun is in Capricorn mountain goat energy, to figure out what we want to do with our lives. Anyone been contemplating your role in the world, what you came here to offer and what you can do this year to move towards making your unique contribution to humanity? If you have wished you had the time to think more about your life, the heavens are supporting you to do so now.

A Time to Meditate on Self

Yogi Bhajan was asked the question "Is there a mantra, kriya, or meditation to help balance Mercury's influence, when the planet is retrograde? Yogi Bhajan's answer was "If Mercury didn't go retrograde, we all would be out of our wits. When Mercury goes forward, it is the time to look at the world as a whole. When Mercury goes retrograde, it is a time to look at oneself. Looking at every aspect of oneself is the greatest meditation of all meditations. Please let Mercury do its job and you do yours".(1) We just got our meditation instructions from now through January 22!

Getting the Best out of Mercury Retrograde

Most people dread the three annual periods of three plus weeks of Mercury retrograde. At the least these times are considered a frustrating nuisance. At the worst they impose direct obstacles to our communications, transportation, plans and functioning of our technical devices.

Electrical equipment, cars, and other forms for transportation and technology, often seem to break down or have problems during Mercury retrograde. Maybe the problems were already there. Maybe we are just being reminded to be less active and out going. The Universe is definitely testing our patience button. Maybe we are supposed to quit trying to fit so many activities into our busy day, and put ourselves on our own schedules. It is a time to enjoy a break from business as usual. We might as well relax. If we press too hard, business will not easily move forward. If we quit trying, other forces step in to help. We might not be aware of the results of our efforts until after Mercury goes direct, and the outcomes can be very different than we expected, and sometimes even better than we could have even imagined. Blocks to our progress can, in fact, turn out to be forces redirecting us on a life path more in line with our destiny path.

Understanding the Gift of Mercury Retrograde

To take advantage of this period of time, we need to understand that the energy of Mercury retrograde impacts us very differently than the energy of Mercury direct. During Mercury retrograde, our rational minds are less active. We have more access to our reflective, neutral minds and our hearts. We can hear our insightful inner voice, which "can bring answers, warnings, and intuitive seed ideas that could be overlooked at other times".(2)

We actually feel like and are able to relax, if we just allow ourselves to slow down enough to notice. Our stalled cars might give us a chance to slow down, if we don't take this opportunity ourselves. Optimally we can take notice of both inner and outer resistance, and interpret this as a message to calm down, and go with the gentle flow and unfoldment of life. We all say we want to relax and go with the flow. Well, this is our chance to actualize this desire. The heavens are supporting us, in giving us permission to release the pressure on ourselves, and to enjoy a period of inner peace.

The reality is that we cannot endlessly push forward without stopping to rest our minds and bodies. Periodically we need to stop and reflect upon events and experiences in our lives, and to examine our life direction. We need time to evaluate our progress, and then carefully trim our sails, reorient our plans, and calmly plan for the future.

Mercury retrograde gives us three (or more) chances a year to examine our inner resistance, so we can identify how we impede our own progress. It is a time to kiss away disappointments with self-empathy, and to celebrate achievements with gratitude. It is a time to understand outer constraints, so we can be realistic about what put our energy into. Being realistic about what is, and what is not possible, helps us determine if we are indeed riding our horse in the right direction.

Mercury retrograde is a time to be still, so that we can look back and catch up on the story of our own lives. When we slow down, it is easier to see how we have woven the tapestry of our jouney, and acknowledge and enjoy a sense of completion. We can be in gratitude for what we have accomplished, and express thanks for the support we have received. Wisdom, understanding and transformation of consciousness come to us, as we reconnect with our inner selves.

A Time of the Heart

Mercury retrograde gives us an opportunity, and lots of incentives, to break up our routines and stop to smell the roses. It is a good time to take time off, take vacations and just play for even a day. It is also a good time to finish projects, clean out closets, and complete those things that have been on our list too long. This is not only a personal time; it is a time of the heart. It feels good to not only get closer to ourselves, but also to get closer to our friends and family. Intimacy is favored. Relax and fall in love with yourself and life, and maybe even someone else.

You might find it takes time to wind down, but get into the vibe as soon as you can. One theme of Mercury retrograde could be Instead of go for it, relax into it. It is a good time to forgive yourself and others. If there is something that bugs you, ask for clarity and guidance instead of rushing into trying to fix the situation. Healing and resolution can come from pure intentions from the heart.

If you are already into the vibe and want to know the next time Mercury will offer us this same heart opening opportunity the answer is April 26 - May 20, 2003, August 28 - September 19, 2003, and December 17 - January 5, 2004

Stationary Mercury

Mercury is "stationary" when it appears to be motionless. This happens just before it turns retrograde and also when it moves back into direct motion. "When Mercury stations within 5-7° of a natal Sun, Moon or planet, some emotional and mental turmoil can be expected in the week or so of the approach".(3) This is also true if the position of Mercury impacts or influences other planets by aspect. The simple example in this case is Mercury went retrograde at 28° Capricorn. Any planets, Sun or Moon in or near 28° Cancer (the opposing planet) will be impacted. I have found that many of us are impacted no matter what the degree. We can identify the impact by the house through which Mercury is passing. It is just that the intensity might be more noticeable with the too close to deny influence.

Here are two things to watch for. Jenni Stone says that during the time when Mercury turns retrograde, we can experience a turning point in our lives. Often, "people or events from the past return into your life, bringing with them a significant perspective to ongoing challenges". She also says that "the first contacts made as Mercury goes direct seem to have a fated quality. You will meet people who are likely to be important in your life long into the future".(4) Stay tuned for the days around January 22.

The same principles apply to all the planets as they turn direct or retrograde. Their stationary days often deeply impact our lives.

Mystery and the Ground Rules

The energy of Capricorn sets the tone for our self-evaluation this year. Capricorn teaches us about the ground rules of human life on the physical plane. We all want to know what is going to happen in our lives. The ego wants certainty and predictability. We want psychics and astrologers to tell us if a certain person is compatible with us, if a relationship is going to work, if this situation is going happen. The ego can want this information, but the reality is that the human journey is not set up so we can know everything in advance. Human life is set up to be a mystery to be unraveled. Human life is about discovery. We live in the unknown, and we co-create our own reality. Like the Capricorn goat, we take one step at a time into the unknown. With each step we create the known with the participation of our own energy, intentions and efforts.

Think about it. We wouldn't want everything to be totally predictable. If we knew everything that was going to happen to us, life would be very boring and not really worth living. To be able to know in advance would indicate a life of fate and predetermination. Rare is the person who would choose fate over destiny. Fate is the worst case scenario based on our accumulated karma. We want to move out of the cycle of karma and fate and earn a more exalted life experience.

I call our highest possible life experience our destiny. To manifest our destiny, we have to take advantage of the ground rules of:

  1. learning
  2. evolution
  3. experience
  4. choice
  5. experimentation
  6. responsibility and
  7. co-creation.

The rules of the game down here are based on the fact that we are here (1) to learn lessons, (2) to grow and evolve, (3) to have experiences, (4) to exercise our free will to make choices, (5) to experiment and take risks, (6) to take responsibility for our choices and (7) to co-create our reality.

Learning through Experience

If we knew in advance what was going to happen, we would have no motivation to learn our lessons. We have to learn and grow to move forward. Of course, we can choose not to learn, and then we attract the same situations again and again, each time more challenging. As we learn, we still attract the same lessons. The difference is that the gifts become more and more available. The gifts include personal growth goals like a sense of accomplishment and success. They also include personal empowerment rewards, such as inner satisfaction and peace. We can also attract rewarding situations such as work we really like, and relationships that meet our need for love.

The human experiment is based on experience. Our experiences unfold one step at a time. We can't know if a situation or a relationship works for us until we try it out for size. Of course, there are a lot of things we can check out in advance, and we can follow our intuition and not our illusions. Granted it is hard to know the difference between the two. That is why we have intuition. The more conscious we become, and the more we pay attention to our inner guidance, the more we can avoid circumstances that don't work for us. Our intuition was given to us so that we could calculate the effects of our actions before we take them. One of the lessons we all have to learn is that we can avoid a lot of pain if we follow our intuition.

But even after we have connected with, learned to listen to, and follow our inner guidance, the ground rules still dictate that there are many things we simply can't know before we experience them. In the arena of partnership, we can identify our need for connection and intimacy. We can even find agreement with a potential partner about both getting these needs met, but we still have to engage in real life experiences of being together, to know if we feel comfortable with each other, and interact in ways that we both get our needs met when we are together. The partnership dance is not a logical discussion. It is a real live play.

Choice and Risk-Taking

Earth is a planet of choice. The gift of free will gives us both choice and responsibility. To embellish the game, we are responsible for our non-choices and unconscious choices, as well as our conscious choices. Choice gives us the opportunity to co-create our own reality. We are the key players. We create within a context, which includes the situation we were born into, the energies available to us, and lessons we have chosen to learn this lifetime. Astrology is an invaluable tool for identifying the energies, lessons and life arenas that will be our playground, but this information is the context, not the content of our lives. This knowledge can give us a clearer understanding of the nature of the choices we must deal with this lifetime.

We can lower our risks and avoid some obvious frustrations, but we can't avoid the overall game plan, which includes risk taking. We have to jump in and take a chance. We have to try out new things and see how they fit. As we experience new situations, we can check our feelings, analyze the results, and make further decisions based on what we are learning. We can move on to the next choice, the next experiment, and the next risk.

One of the biggest mind trips down here is the concept of failure. The idea of failure is based on the illusion of life without risk taking. Failure really indicates that we made a choice that produced results that we don't like. We have an opportunity to learn not to make that same choice again.

Attaining Mastery

There are ways of living that make life easier down here. We can choose to be non-judgmental and live from a compassionate heart. We can live a path of service, dharma, and avoid accumulating more karma. We can also learn to live in the freedom and joy of the moment, without the load of preconceived notions of how we want things to turn out. Instead of attachment to outcomes, we can live in the aliveness of experimentation. We can be present to the tone of our reactions and interactions, and let our level of contentment or discomfort be our guide. It can be scary to tune into ourselves at this level of honesty, but it is the only way to really know what works for us, and to gather information that we can use to make adjustments, aimed at getting everyone's human needs met and spiritual desires fulfilled.

Mastery is really about living by the rules of the game and the laws of the Universe:

Incremental Change

Change happens incrementally, not overnight. We can't just drop an old pattern and expect it to disappear forever. It takes time to process the energy, nurture the emotions, reorient our belief systems, and shift our behaviors. Real change happens at a very deep level. If it is not deep, it is not real or permanent. We have to figure out what we are needing. We have to figure out how to get our needs met; and this does not mean by finding someone else who can meet them. We have to find multiple ways of getting our needs met and not just depend upon one source, (unless it is the Source.) We have to monitor how we are feeling, and how getting our needs met shifts our emotional reactions. We have to be able to identify, and define, reasonable needs that we can appropriately request from another. When our needs are reasonable it is easier to ask for them. Nevertheless, we often feel afraid to ask for what we are needing. We have to feel the fear and ask to deal with the fear. No free lunches on this one either.


The wise Capricorn goat also teaches us how to live honorably. I like Yogi Bhajan's words on this too. "Whenever I do something I ask myself: Will it exalt me? Will it show my excellence? Will it prove I am a human? Would I like this to happen to me? And finally, within my best knowledge, is it the best I can do? These five aspect I will always compute and consider".(5)

This leads us back to our discussion on how to evaluate our lives and move forward in 2003.

Acknowledge Progress

I have found that before I set my intentions for the New Year, I need to acknowledge what I achieved during the previous year. I have set out guidelines for this process in Issue 56. It always amazes me how much I have actually accomplished, both in terms of what I have done and the shifts in my consciousness. I need to anchor this feeling of accomplishment into my psyche, so I can draw on it when I get impatient with myself for not getting enough done. I always include a sincere examination, and then acknowledgement that I have done the best I could, within the given parameters of time and space and the knowledge available to me. This always infuses a positive tone to my self-examination.

This year I looked at the things that I was worried about last year that never happened. My life unfolded in such a different way than I had imagined. Now I see that those worries could have been relegated to simple concerns. This year, when concerns come up, I am simply going to set my intentions that they are resolved with love and grace. That does seem to be what happens anyway. So, this year I am going to get a jump start on the reality of grace. In fact, one of my intentions for the year 2003 is to enjoy living in the space of grace. I like how that feels!

It is awesome how much happens that we don't even do. I got a wonderful apartment by myself this year, and I didn't even have to move! My brother (bought a condo) moved out of his apartment that I shared with him for the past heart-centered three and a half years. I am so grateful that he left me with almost everything I needed. What a gift. What a loving friend!

As far as consciousness, I am so grateful that I live in so much trust. I used to shake in fear. It has taken me 25 years of Kundalini Yoga to break the fear habit, but this year I can say, I am way over the top on that one. To anchor in this new reality, I am going to keep Yogi Bhajan's words handy this year - "We must be guided by faith. If we are guided by fear, we block ourselves and our expansion".(6)

Intentions and Assistance

This year, as I set my intentions, I am going to ask for assistance at the same time. As I just said, I have noticed how much is done by divine grace and certainly not by my physical efforts. I am going to ask for help from whoever and whatever forces are available to assist me. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually doing anything, but I do take credit for making the decision to get up in the morning. ☺

This reminds me of one my favorite stories about my mother, who is still alive and kicking at 87. She was the first one to introduce me to yoga (Hatha in 1968), for which I am infinitely grateful. About six years ago she was visiting me in Palo Alto. She wanted to help me do something, so she decided to clean and reorganize my silverware drawer. I pulled the drawer out to knock out the excess dirt. Then we couldn't get it back in. We both got frustrated, so I left the room and she said she would work on it. About ten minutes later I returned and she had the drawer conveniently back in place and was arranging the silverware. I asked her what did she do? She shared, "I sat down, got quiet and centered myself and said, 'Whoever is here, help me!'" Then she got up and the drawer went easily back into its place. We both had a good laugh, and I have used her technique. They always say, we just have to ask.

Pace not Race

This year I am going to work on patience. I am going to pace myself instead of being in a race. The Capricorn goat embodies patience. Capricorn climbs the mountain one step at a time. I have been focusing on one step at a time, and it feels very peaceful. I just have to be present to what I am doing at the moment. Recently, I started putting on my list only what I was going to do that day. This makes me feel so much calmer. I love it when I only have one thing on the list. (A rare day of just writing that I so relish.)

I am also going to notice when I am impatient about things I cannot change, and shift my focus to gratitude for my breath and being alive. I have expanded my understanding of integrity to simply being at peace with what IS. That is one way we achieve harmonious lives.

Kundalini Yoga - Yogi Bhajan Meditation on Gratitude
Yogi Bhajan

Above all this year, I am going to live in an attitude of gratitude.

Yogi Bhajan says that "The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga. Just be grateful, 'great' and 'full'. The secret of being great and full is a simply thing: Experience right now you are breathing, you are alive, and you are fully alive. Life is a gift. That breath of life comes from God. It is coming to you, and you are with it. The enlightened state of mind is gratefulness for every breath of life. It is your first conscious act. Just live in that one breath and feel happy and say, 'Thank you'.

"Whatever you are today, you must be grateful for it. If you start with that, you'll have three things: You will be prosperous, you will be rich, and you will have many, many opportunities and friends.

"The easiest thing you can do in this life is to be grateful - not about how people treat you, not about who gives you what - just be grateful that you are breathing. It is that simple. 'I am grateful I am breathing'. That is all - for the breath of life. Whatever is in the air, just say, 'I am alive. Thank you God. You are giving me a chance to experience life'. Just feel wonderful with that".(7)

So this is our meditation for the year - to be grateful for our breath. Inhale and get started right away! ☺

Transitions to a Heart Centered World by Guru Rattana, Ph.D.

Transitions to a Heart-Centered World by Guru Rattana, Ph.D., is a rich and unique compilation of the core teachings and Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations of Yogi Bhajan.

The new Second Edition, revised and updated,is ready to welcome a whole new generation of students to this life-changing technology. It offers powerful and effective techniques to both teacher and student, to empower your lower chakras and open your heart to unconditional love.

Contains literally dozens of meditations to access heart and soul consciousness.

Want to give yourself a gift for the New Year? There are enough heart opening meditations and Kundalini Yoga sets in my book Transitions to a Heart-Centered World to last a lifetime of Mercury retrogrades. If you don't already have it, you should order it today!

References and Footnotes

"Learning to Love Mercury Retrograde", Jenni Stone, The Mountain Astrologer, Issue #106, Dec/Jan, 2003, PP. 28-30.

"Dear Yogiji", Aquarian Times, Volume 2, number 3, Fall 2002, PP 66.

Prosperity Paths, Issue, 48, December 2002.

365 Gems to Nurture the Spirit, A daily Inspirational Calendar from the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, 2003

1. Dear Yogiji, pp 66
2. Stone, p. 28
3. Stone, p. 29
4. Stone, p. 29
5. 365 Gems, April 15th
6. 365 Gems, April 13th
7. Prosperity Paths, p. 4.
8. Transitions to a Heart-Centered World, by Guru Rattana, Ph.D.


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