Dealing with what’s inside
At this time of the year most of us are looking to the future, building our hopes up that in 2017 we will get in shape, save some more money, create better habits, maybe heal our relationships, or find our life partners and start a family. Whatever the hope may be, December seems to always bring us in touch with our inner longings, the deep desires that makes us see a future that is better and more fulfilling for us and our loved ones.
But, this time of the year also presents an important opportunity for us to look backwards, to see what we accomplished, what we wished we had accomplished, and all the things in between. Whether 2016 was the best year of your life, or the hardest year that you have ever lived, in it there are crucial golden nuggets that we cannot dismiss. Life always presents us with some amazing lessons, and they often come disguised in turmoil. So, instead of trying to walk away as fast as you can from all that’s behind you, perhaps use this time to build a beautiful future AND to discover the hidden jewels of this past year.
To me 2016 has been one of the most amazing years of my life, with the birth of my daughter Mia. But, it has also been, on a personal level, one of the most difficult years of my life. While I can count my blessings every morning, looking at the world through the lens of my 11-month old, I also see that 2016 gave me a lot of incredible lessons in the midst of much chaos. My practice this year is to continue to stay grateful for the gifts – all of them, that 2016 has brought me.
Here are a few great questions you can ask yourself?
What am I deeply grateful for that 2016 has brought me?
Perhaps here, you just list the most obvious things, like the raise you may have gotten, healing from an injury or disease, giving birth to a healthy child, or whatever things you can certainly bring a state of gratitude without much effort.
Once, you’ve stated the obvious, now look at the things that feel very contractive, and hard to swallow. What are those things?
Perhaps, this year there was a betrayal, the end of a relationship, the loss of someone you loved, a diagnosis, bankruptcy…what in 2016 feels like a bad circumstance? We all have had some, and maybe 2016 wasn’t so bad, but maybe, like for me, it was brutal.
Here is the challenge: can you begin to see what lessons are available to you from these circumstances? And, even a better question: can you see your own growth happening because of these circumstances? One of my mentors tells the story of how the Dali Lama calls the Chinese government his sacred friends. That might sound weird, but what he says is that because of the attacks by the Chinese government he was called to raise his level of understanding on compassion. That part of him that was already there, grew and continues to grow, not in spite of, but because of the harsh circumstances the Tibetan people are suffering. Your sacred friend might be a person, a group of people, or even an event.
What in you is seeking growth from this experience? To me this is a question I have had to dwell on for many months, while the situations themselves continued to get worse and worse. But, eventually, when we look, we find. That does not necessarily make the situation better, or gives a way out for those who might have hurt us. But it helps us move away from being a victim of the condition. In victimhood we cannot learn, or grow. As I get clarity, or even awaken from perhaps the dormant state I was in while these events happened, I can gain a healthier perspective and see exactly what in me is being called to grow, heal and change. The work is never just done by simply recognizing those things. That’s just the start. But understanding these events as sacred we can move into 2017 better armed so the same bad conditions do not keep repeating themselves in our lives.
If you feel that this exercise places the blame on you – trust me, I am a champion at letting myself believe that I am the cause of all bad things (in my life, and others), then this is the learning for you. You can, as I have been, see your past mistakes and still recognize that you are worthy of everything that you hope for. Buddha nature exists within you, as it does in everyone. A great daily mantra is one where you chant to yourself and to those who have harmed you (in your head): I see the good in you, as I see it in myself. Once you begin to truly mean that, you are released from the grips of self blame, guilt, regret and anger.
To me, 2017 is a year of DEEP healing, and re-connecting with my truer self, the beautiful, loving and compassionate being that is who I am. Any internal voice and definitely any external voice that says otherwise, is being left in 2016.
My wish to you: surround yourself with love, a lot of it, and let 2017 be the best year yet!