Life is basically simple. Yet we make it hugely complicated by worrying about things that haven't yet happened, or wishing things were like they were in the past and always talking about the good old days. What a tangle we get into!
A new year has a very special effect as it invokes the wonderful possibility of new beginnings. It makes us feel like we have the chance to start over, to untangle the mess and do things right this time, make amends, or become the person we know we really can be. Hence all those resolutions, like mantras, made with such conviction and determination.
So why does it take a new year to make us behave like this? Why is it that for 364 days we live with regret, doubt, holding on to what we did wrong and wishing we hadn't, or dreaming of a future that can never be because it doesn't exist, and then for just one day we resolve to change all this?
No matter how hard we try there's one thing we can never do, and that's change the past. We can whack pillows with a baseball bat, beat our fists against the table, or eat bags of cookies to assuage our guilt, but it won't make the slightest bit of difference and really won't make us feel any better. The past is gone, over, no more, done, finito.
Continuing to wish that our actions or words had been different means we're really not in the present but are living in what-could-have-been or what-might-have-been or if-only. If the past is too painful or even too boring then we switch over to the future, that place of infinite potential that we want to believe could be real, like wishful thinking or a daydream. We live in what-might-be or what-could-be.
Of course we can learn from the past. Often the most painful experience turns out to be our best teacher; we can be grateful as the experience taught us so much. Memories are like comfortable old shoes we are reluctant to part with. However, we can certainly put them on now and then but we don't have to hang out in them on a permanent basis.
Instead we can change our attitude toward what happened. Fully accepting that the past is irreversible and the future doesn't exist means we can actually just be in the present moment. Finally we can be here and now. Wow! What a relief! What a revelation!
Just For Today
Each day is a very special day. It has never happened before and it will never happen again. And you have no idea what will happen. The greatest wonder is never being able to know what will come next: no matter how hard you try, the future will always be ahead of you.
So what a great time just to be here now! To be with what is! The perfect day to let the past rest where it is and let the future take care of itself. As is every day.
Experience just this moment, pay attention to the colors, sounds, smells and sensations. Pay attention to your feelings, to other people's feelings, and make this day, this week, this month, and this whole year, one of beauty and tenderness. Happy New Year!
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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com
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