January 1, 2022

JANUARY RELFECTION

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As I inhale the crisp winter air during my morning walking meditation, I am reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching that the beauty of the Earth is a bell of mindfulness. Breathing in, I feel grounded in the Earth. Breathing out, I feel my connection to all beings. I pause... this moment provides me with such an overwhelming flow of deep gratitude.

I realize that the New Year can be a shaky time for those of us who aren’t yet comfortable with the ground we are standing on; with where and who we are in the current versions of our lives. They are days when we can’t help but stare ourselves straight in the face and assess honestly what we see in order to gauge where we are, where we’re heading, and if we’re heading where we really want to go. This self-reflection, augmented either by a post-holiday overextension of time or celebration, can very easily lead to a magnification of what we’ve decided are our most glaring shortcomings and a masking of what we too easily forget are our greatest strengths. It can be a time that raises our inner voices of self-doubt and negativity.

But I don’t think it has to be. Perhaps we can look at this moment as an opportunity to show ourselves deep kindness and compassion? A chance to remind ourselves of what we’ve loved about our lives and ourselves in 2021, and to be okay with all the imperfections therein. To love those imperfections because they’ve made us who we are right now.

What if we took a moment to close our eyes? And while our eyes are closed, we let ourselves think about any fears, concerns, or anxieties we have about the New Year? And then, once all those fears and concerns are at the forefront of our minds, what if, instead of feeling like we’re drowning in them, we feel like we’re basking in them? What if we tell ourselves that the passing of another year isn’t a crisis that needs intervention but a checkpoint that needs affirmation? Not an affirmation that we are where we want to be, but an affirmation that we are where we are and we are not alone. We are connected to everyone and everything that is around us.

Let’s take a moment to really think about who and what we’ve gotten to see and experience over the past year. Think about what has felt right about those things and what has felt wrong about them. And then let’s take a deep breath... and another one. And then, after a while, let’s see if we can let those breaths quiet the overly critical voice inside of us. Then, maybe, when we open our eyes, we’ll let ourselves be okay with the fact that this part of our lives, what we have right now, as another year passes, isn’t perfect.

Maybe we’ll even let ourselves love that. We’ll love that imperfection not because it’ll make the future that’s waiting for us feel even more perfect when it comes, no dear friends, there just isn’t enough time to think that way. Perfection doesn’t exist, but we do, as we are right now. Just for a moment, maybe we should let the future be just that. And the past too. Maybe we should think of the passing of another year not as a reminder that life is passing us by, but as a reminder that it isn’t.

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