Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, by Pema Chodron. New Book Group (virtual and in-person) begins Monday, January 9, 2023, from 10:00-11:30 am. Contact The Mindfulness Path at info at themindfulnesspath.com for more info.
Mindful Resolutions for 2023
As I sit here this morning on the coldest day of the year so far in Tucson, I am reminded of the Winter Solstice and the darkening of the light. Many of the shades are closed in my home this morning and the door to the back room of our house is closed to keep the house warmer and reduce the cold air. In many ways this is a ritual that we do this time of year, acknowledging the deepest, darkest season of the year. We make sure we wear many layers of clothing and eat warming foods to maintain a regulated body temperature, strengthen our defenses, and stay well.
I am aware of the fact that this is the third winter of Covid-19. In addition, rising numbers of people are contracting the flu and are hospitalized with RSV. So many people want to forget that these illnesses are still with us. They want to be free of thinking about disease, and many act as if it did not exist. We can see this in the decline in wearing masks and the fewer numbers of persons receiving Covid-19 boosters. Ironically this trio of illnesses accompanies this time of hibernation and among humans, the holiday season. Cold weather and indoor close quarters with people nearby are conditions we have to live with.
Mindful awareness invites us to approach this living situation with acceptance. We can be overcome with Aversion, also known as hatred, and one of the Three Poisons the Buddha spoke about (which also include Greed and Delusion), that entangle our emotions and incline us toward dislike and pushing away life’s conditions. The interesting thing about these “Poisons” is that we get entangled in irritation, frustration, and anger.
Instead of living in this nasty brew, we can practice being aware of what this is doing to us, gain clarity about our current state, and hopefully make healthier choices in regard to appreciating the beauty, and the possible transforming effect of the winter. We can look with gladness upon the coming light of the new year, even in the midst of darkness.
This brings me to the (everlasting) light that invites inner reflection. Looking within we can probe our deeper values, wants, and needs to discover what we want to take forth with us into the coming year and what we no longer wish to carry with us. There are conscious choices we can make based on the result of our intentions that can bring the essence of “Wise Intentions“, the Second Noble truth, with us. These may consist of goodwill, generosity, Lovingkindness, compassion, friendliness and ethical living. Now we can make a “Mindful Resolution” that will frame and shape our attitude, behavior, deeds, and actions. The Buddha compared our intentions to a sapling tree that would grow strong and tall if given the proper nutrients and conditions for flourishing. We are asked to do no less for ourselves. Plant the seeds of your intentions deeply in your heart/mind and you will thrive.
As this year draws to its end,
we give thanks for the gifts it brought
and how they become inlaid within
where neither time nor tide can touch them.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
~ John O’Donohue