As we move into a new year, I want to offer you a few personal reflections, some suggestions for your own process of reflecting, and opportunities to practice together into 2012.
For me, this week provides the perfect circumstances for turning within and asking myself honestly, how did I do in 2011? What do I hope for in 2012? How might I get there?
I’ve found that it doesn’t do to make lists of things I hope to accomplish but feel are lacking currently. This just makes me sad. Instead, I’ve found it more useful to begin training myself into the feeling state I know is most beneficial, which is to have an open heart and a sense of possibility. No matter how things are going in my life, if I know how to return to this state of receptivity and curiosity, then I have found the key to joy. And after all, this, a joyful life, is my objective, not making a gajillion dollars, weighing less pounds, or possessing a particular title. Not that there is anything wrong with those things but if my happiness is dependent on them, they are traps. Instead of requiring certain things to feel joyful, I could just feel joyful, on the spot. When I turn my attention to the truth of my experience rather than what I wish my experience was, this wakeful state is always what I find. And my favorite definition of joyful? Awake.
It is not easy, but it actually is that simple.
Joy comes with the cultivation of an inner life and an intimate knowledge of the way your own mind and heart work—not so that you can manipulate yourself, but as an expression of love itself. Joy comes from loving yourself. Not because you have been good or successful or beautiful or self-sacrificing or authentic or anything—but just because you are the only you who will ever be you and you are you, and you is good, period, full stop. You, exactly as you are right now, with all of your brilliance, confusion, sorrow, and f&*cked up-ness are good. You are cause for celebration.
Please do not take my word for any of this. Check it all out yourself, you must. No “wisdom” means anything unless you yourself know it to be true, based on personal experience. So as we move into a new year together, I have some suggestions for deepening this kind of relationship to yourself. Check them out. What is helpful to you, keep. What sounds crazy (or useless), feel free to blip right over. Here goes.
1. Together with the wonderful Patti Digh, I’ve assembled 7 questions from 7 teachers to help you contemplate your way across the finish line into 2012. In order to share these questions with you, you’ll be receiving an email a day from me through January 1, but thereafter we’ll go back to two emails per week.
We’re going to present a question a day between December 26 and January 1. Each question has a theme. You can answer the question in your journal, in the comments section below, and/or on our Facebook page. You can answer each question on its day or collect them all and answer them in a giant answer-orgy on December 31 or another day you choose. Make this process your own.
Today’s question is from Patti and the topic is On Living In Your Body (What Patti calls “Bendiness.”) She is a wonderful writer and teacher who offers and embodies kindness, creativity, humor, and all-around human decency.
Her question for us: Where have I learned and lived in 2011? In my head, in my body, or both? What would living more fully in my body in 2012 bring to me? How can I embody life and learning as I move through this liminal space between now and next? How can I more fully learn from the neck down in 2012?
In our hyper-intellectualized disembodied world, we sometimes allow technology to take the place of our bodies, don’t we? We sit, with only our arms moving as we type. We’ve even begun to distrust what our bodies say to us. Instead, we learn from the neck up, when learning from the neck down and fully embodying life will provide us with such greater riches. What do you allow yourself to really feel in your body, without the need to clarify, intellectualize, provide proof, capture with data, or block? What can you allow yourself to really feel in your body in 2012? –Patti Digh
Future questions are as follows:
Dec 27 Ken Robert On Shadows
Dec 28 Andrew Mellen On Becoming Organized
Dec 29 Jennifer Louden On Serving
Dec 30 Jonathan Fields On Creativity
Dec 31 Susan Piver On Spirituality
Jan 1 Seth Godin On Being an Artist
2. All this week, I’m going to be practicing and studying more. If you choose to open each of these emails, you may be too! (There will be a guided meditation to accompany each of the questions listed above. Our practice won’t change particularly but will be “flavored” by each question.) It would be great to practice together each day before the new year begins.
Before I practice each day, I’m going to read from a dharma book and make note of my reactions and questions in my journal. I will be reading this and this. If you’re looking for reading suggestions this week, I joyfully and wholeheartedly recommend any or all of the following:
Our book of the month, Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
And, if you’re interested in taking a dive into an important, scholarly, and profound foundational dharma text, please try
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa (Don’t be overly afraid or proud of reading such texts. Just soak in their wisdom. It is real and completely indestructible, as well as practical and fascinating.)
3. Member of The Open Heart Project? Consider stopping by on New Year’s Eve to meditate together. You party animal! I know that what you really want to do on New Year’s Eve is practice meditation!! Anyway, I do. I’ll be meditating from 11p on December 31, 2011 until 12:30a on Jan 1, 2012. You may join me for any or all of that as I’ll be live-streaming my practice. Times are EST.
To learn meditation and receive support via guided meditation instruction sent right to your inbox, sign up for The Open Heart Project.
Wishing you each and all a fully awake transition into a beautiful new year, hearts wide open.