Happy New Year! It is native to our culture, and to our human nature, to see the start of the year as a fresh start. A time when it feels as if the slate has been wiped clean and we can begin anew.
Our thoughts naturally turn to how we might increase our wellbeing, health, happiness, love, abundance at this time of year - all the good things that we would like to experience more deeply. Understandably, we want to somehow take the momentum of this fresh start forward, to mark it in both internal and external ways.
As I stand on the threshold of 2023 contemplating the year ahead, however, I notice that the way I approach the start of the year has changed in recent years. I am no longer interested in setting myself up with goals in the way that I used to. I find that I no longer choose to establish a set of expectations and subtle pressures that seem to stem from some need to ‘correct’ myself.
It’s as if I am turning to a different aspect of myself to set my course . . . reaching for a deeper, wiser navigational system.
I wanted to share this with you in case you too are making this transition, or in case you are still wrapped up in setting resolutions and are now starting to feel the tension they can bring.
Where Does Doing Spring From?
Most action springs directly from thought. But the quality of thought can lead to a very different quality of action.
When action arises naturally from an insight, or from being inspired by something or someone, there is a sense of knowing. The action itself feels clear, sure and solid, and takes us in a direction that is alive and expansive.
Compare this to action that arises out of stressful, worried thoughts. At such times, we are listening to a different level of consciousness in ourselves: we are listening to our worried mind (this is also often called 'habitual thinking', or the 'busy' or 'everyday' mind.) Action that arises from this level - that typically stems from worry, reactivity, desperation or frustration - will feel very different. There is a tightness to it. The course of action will feel restrictive and often set a person at odds with themselves and their deeper values.
What fascinates me is what happens further down the line when we have embarked on a trajectory of action borne out of insight and wisdom, versus one engendered by fear and worry.
How will this year be if you start it from a place of pressure and demand, compared to a place of loving permissiveness and allowing?
A Gentle Example
Late in 2022, I returned to practicing meditation. I had meditated in the past, but I didn’t really get it. And the place that I was coming from was that I ‘should’ do it, ‘should’ be able to get it and ‘should’ continue with it because it was something that spiritually conscious people do. Not surprisingly, I didn’t experience very much enjoyment or benefit from it.
But what brought me back to it in 2022 was the fact that I was longing for some daily time that I could set aside for deeper connection to the Now: time to bathe in the Present, and have it saturate me, heal me and whisper to me.
Since coming back to meditation from here I have found it very easy and deeply nurturing. I drop into a space of deep inner quiet within seconds - something that I found impossible before. Meditation is not something that I am ‘doing’ now, or a practice that I have set myself in order to become more spiritually conscious; it’s simply a space of being that I give myself everyday. It’s a gift that nourishes my deepest connection with Life and Spirit.
Now, several months in, I feel this practice 'growing me'. I feel how the stillness is seeping into my everyday life in subtle and lovely ways. I feel my body beginning to release deeper levels of habitual tension. I see myself responding to situations differently. And I marvel at this. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
Finding Love's Guidance
So many times in my life I have seen how true transformation, true creative action, true living, isn’t borne out of what we are doing, but from where we are doing it from. Not from the specific action we take, but where that action comes from.
Action that arises from knowing, insight, effortless allowing and gentle ease simply travels further, is more buoyant and has more radiance. It creates a richer experience. It creates a richer life.
This is deeply comforting to remember when we face seemingly difficult decisions and are tempted to turn to our worried mind. Actually, not turning to our worried mind is far more effective! It is also useful for us at this time of the new year. What if we don’t impose goals on ourselves? What if we simply keep following that which feels beautiful and good and true for us, and allow our selves to deepen into that at this time? Because isn’t the fact that it feels beautiful, good and true a strong indication that it is?
Anything that we feel we have to do or should do will always ultimately end up being disorientating for us because its orientation is not Love; it is correction. We are moving into action from the wrong place: from a place of fault rather than a place of love and enabling.
At the start of this year, my deep wish is to deepen into that within me that continually and lovingly guides me all the time.
When Love Whispers . . . Do We Hear?
As I listen more and more deeply to love, I find more and more of my life waking up - as if it is being touched by sunlight, by grace.
I want to keep listening to this. I want to recognise the gifts in my life and find the grace notes in my being. I want to recognise them in those around me and in my daily life.
A few days ago, at the end of my meditation I was pondering this and suddenly I heard a gentle, loving voice of Spirit speak to me and say: 'For every 100 gifts of love I give you in an hour, you receive only one!’
There was such merriment behind this statement. I found myself laughing. I could see this. I could suddenly see the many ways in which Love reaches for me and I do not recognise it, I do not reach back. And this can be on an hourly basis! It can even happen several times a minute. This made me pause. It made me wish to receive love more graciously.
It is part of my life’s joy to begin to recognise love more. I know I have a long way to go, but the journey is beautiful! And this doesn’t feel like a goal - it feels like the most incredible, expansive invitation ….
So I just wanted to reach out at this time because maybe my thoughts and musings around this can help and remind you. Maybe you too are only receiving one in every one hundred gifts that Love offers you. And maybe, rather than setting yourself up with goals that feel like pressures, at this time of year, you could start the year by handing yourself over to Love.
Someone said to me recently, what does Love actually feel like? It is something I am still learning to recognise myself, but my short answer would be this: it feels like being a flower in bud and feeling the sun touch you and invite you to open . . . When you feel it, you know it. You don't have to think about responding - you just do. And it comes from within you, and within the fabric of your life. It is not just to be found in one special person - it is to be found everywhere, if you have the eyes to see.