No delusions of new year resolutions creating the perfect you or the perfect life in this post.
Rather than new year resolutions, set an intention. An intention is something we sit in relation to, in tension with, a compass for the heart as Jack Kornfield says. This is ultimately what gives our life meaning.
Many years ago, I set an intention of finding a wisdom, a way of understanding the world that was sustainable and healthier than the one offered by western culture. Mindfulness found me. At the time, I had no idea how anxious and reactive I was. My new intention soon became to take on this practice so it started living in every cell of my being. Some years into it I noticed that I started increasingly holding my human experience in an attitude of kind curiosity, greeting reactions and pesky thoughts with a “hmmm, interesting what arises little human”. There was progress.
A couple of days ago I was riding on the back of a motor bike on Monkey Forest Road in Ubud. At one point, we got too close to a parked car, and so my foot was smashed into the car. First the reptilian brain bounced out, I was so angry. This was followed with a thought of ‘getting the foot above the heart’ (had just come from yoga so that was possible…) Am standing in the street with the blood gushing trying to balance on one foot, keeping my dress down with one hand to not look too indecent and the other one waving my blood spewing foot. Then Tim carried me to a place to sit and managed the situation, people in the street came to help, I got a little weak, others took over and that continued in the hospital. Finally, as they were working on my foot stitching it up, I got teary, the tears just came, drop by drop and even though Tim was being so very tender and loving, the thought that came with the tears were that I wanted Andreas (son) nearby. The mind said ‘just stop thinking about that’ and I would stop crying. A minute later the mind would go, ‘try it again to see if it still brings tears’ and it did, time after time. Interesting thinking….little human.
What the tears were about I have no idea and I choose not to ascribe meaning to them. The beauty of the experience was how cared for I was, how complete strangers all stopped and wanted to help, how professional and kind the clinic doctor and nurse were. My heart swells with gratitude and appreciation for the kindness offered by complete strangers.
This is mindfulness, it is not about a perfect life, the real journey is not about designing a perfect life, it is about living what happens to us in a conscious way. How we hold what occurs and our intentions are integral parts of this.
Now sitting in bed with my foot that won’t allow me to walk, I am not tormented by thoughts on what I can’t do, what I am missing out on. I am aware of a slight gloominess brewing and greet this with ‘hmmm interesting’. The drugs? The rain and humidity? No exercise? It just is, it is a temporary visitor and it is ok. This is very, very different to how I would have experienced this situation before mindfulness.
Mindfulness practice offers a way to live a conscious life, not all the time, but an increasingly conscious life. There will always be reactions that bolt through from our reptilian brain, but with much practice they settle quickly and give room for returning to kind curiosity.
We don’t reach contentment by chasing it or designing what we think is a perfect life. Contentment is not a result of becoming more effective, focused or successful nor of doing a lot more. Experiencing calm and contentment is an inner journey and this is where mindfulness shines and leads the way.
Shifting from 2018 to 2019, is just a marker that we have placed on the circle of life, it can be a catalyst for reflection, waking up, questioning.
Perhaps starting with some reflection could be useful:
- What caused you the most pain in 2018? Does it need to be recognised, acknowledged, does it need self-compassion?
- What would have the biggest impact for you to work on shifting?
- How aware were you of abundance of love, of delight moments in 2018?
Perhaps the best intention is travelling with an attitude of kind curiosity? Perhaps it is setting an intention for cleaning up thoughts using Byron Katies ‘work’. This is an amended version of it:
- Is what I am thinking true?
- Is it really true?
- How does this thinking/thought affect my body? (tight uncomfortable?)
- What/who would I be without that thought? (free?)
Your intention is? Simple, kind, and based in your heart wisdom. My intention for this next year is a focus on surrendering the idea that I know, coming into not knowing.
Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi