The last two weeks of December are among my very favorite of the year—not necessarily because of the holidays and all that, but because it is a natural time for turning inward, taking stock, envisioning the future, and so on.
I have two suggestions for making new year’s resolutions in such a way that they become a part of your spiritual practice rather than an exercise in wishful thinking and self-aggression. Here is the first one. Tune in on Wednesday for the second one.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent many a late December making long lists of goals to achieve and personal qualities to possess. None of my goals were bad or wrong, and my vision of the kind of person I wanted to be was someone good and kind. The goals themselves were not the problem, it was the way I set about accomplishing them. At the end of each year, I always seemed to have the same resolutions so obviously just writing them down and wishing really, really hard for them to come true wasn’t getting it. It also did not seem helpful to imagine / visualize the outcomes I desired. Doing so just seemed to make me more anxious.
There are two little twists I’ve applied to my end of the year accountings and vision for the coming year that have make a big difference. As mentioned, the first one is in today’s newsletter and the second one will come on Wednesday. They’re both pretty simple.
The first is to stop making lists of hoped-for accomplishments. Instead of writing down “exercise more” (always, always on my list) or “become enlightened” (ditto), I try to spend some time in these last weeks of the year feeling what I wish to become.
For example, one thing I always long for is more energy. But rather than hoping to somehow become that person in the future, I experiment with becoming that person right now by becoming her on the inside.
For example, if I tell you right now to flash on what it would feel like to have all the energy in the world, you can do that, right? Just flash. Don’t try to hold on. Don’t try to build a story about how to get that way or why you can never be that way—just be that way. For a second. Then let go. This is a great start.
Then as you go about your day, when you notice someone or something that embodies the energy you desire, feel it. Communicate with it. Take it into your own body. You may have caught a glimpse of gymnastics on TV, noticed a fresh bloom on a plant, or eaten a just-ripe Granny Smith apple—these are all things that to me would conjure a sense of energy. In such moments, I could take into myself the grace and strength of the gymnast, the spurt of a blossom, or the sharpness of an apple. It all happens in a flash.
Then, most important: let go. Stop thinking about it until it again naturally arises in your environment. In this way, rather than writing down an aspiration (“I want more energy”), we create an ongoing relationship to this aspiration by attuning to it, opening to it, taking it into ourselves. You can do this with anything.
So, think about it. Test it out for yourself. Your meditation practice will provide indescribable support by helping you attune to what you seek, first within yourself and then to its presence in the environment. In this way, little by little, by placing your attention over and over on what you desire when you encounter it (not by imagining it a purely conceptual way), you build toward what you want beyond mere wishful thinking.
The video above basically says all of this, but with talking.
To learn meditation and practice together, please sign up for The Open Heart Project.