Compassionate Change for the New Year

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view outside my room

The beginning of another year. Last year I was still very much healing from the events of the year before, and also celebrating the fact that I had found a way to embrace the painful events and let it open my heart instead of close it.

The end of this year finds me fully into my own space, on my own independent path. Physically, this space is present by my four month travels–the States, Nepal, India, and now Bali. I write this from a beautiful room by a rivers bend. I can hear the water gurgle past as it flows through the jungle greens, giving life to this rich landscape. I too am fed. I am so grateful for this beautiful island of Bali. I am grateful to myself for bringing myself here, for taking the time to just enjoy and savor life.

Tonight I am going to an Agni Hotra ceremony. The idea of the ceremony is to release all that does not serve you. A fit ceremony for the New Year. This morning, I took the time to meditate on the topic of releasing old behaviors. Sometimes we are able to release old patterns simply by saying: “No, enough. Things will be different.” I see that type of movement and release guiding me over the past two years. I said a clear no to a destructive relationship borne out of old unconscious patterns, and was able to step into a new phase of my life. A clean break.

Tonight though I want to highlight a different kind of release, a slower more agonizing process of moving more fully into our selves. This is the more common type of growth. Most NYE resolutions are not kept. Most negative patterns haunt our lives over and over, cropping up like an unwanted guest despite our mind’s firm efforts to gain control.

We need to recognize and honor this slower mode of change. If we don’t honor it, we will most likely throw up our hands and quit because we can’t “force” ourselves to be a different person come January first. Even worse, we may get angry at ourselves and blame ourselves for not having the willpower to change. We beat ourselves up.

Know that change often takes time, and give yourself the necessary space. Don’t lose hope if all of your changes don’t come right away. The most important thing is not to slip back into unconsciousness just because that is easier or less painful. Forgive yourself for being human.

So instead of the usual NYE resolution to instantaneously release old habits, I invite you instead to concentrate on bringing in the power of presence and compassion. Name the negative behavior you want to release, but accept that it may require the gentle pressure of slow change. If you see yourself slipping back into the negative behavior, just stay aware. Recognize it is happening again. And with the most loving compassion and tenderness, explore why it is that you keep on doing this thing that you don’t like very much. Don’t worry about stopping anything yet. That will happen later, and naturally. For now, just know that your simple act of conscious intent–alive, filled with light–to release this negative pattern, is enough.

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