January…time of new beginnings full of hope and New Year’s resolutions. I swear this year I will…
- never drink alcohol again
- go to the gym every day for the next ten years
- lose 20lbs
- never eat sugar again
- do yoga every day
- meditate for two hours without my mind wandering
- get rid of my facebook account….
Oh shit… I already broke every single resolution…guess there’s always January 2017!
This list, hopefully comes across as an exaggeration of what many of us do when the New Year comes around; make hopeless, ridiculous goals for ourselves in which we are doomed to fail…and why should we keep at it when well, there is only one day left of January!
I spent the holidays on a ten day silent meditation retreat. Peaceful. Difficult. Sweet. Upon return,, I found myself craving and searching for some sort of high, more than usual than I had experienced in the past year. . My addiction, rather than alcohol, comes in the form of a thrill that while leaving me so excited momentarily leaves me with an emptiness that says, “I won’t be happy until I seek it again.”
January usually gets me down; vacation is over, the anticipated long winter with very little holiday celebration or festivity of lights to keep me going, and, for the past two years it has been the month in which there is impending change and hard decisions need to be made.
After a year of experimenting with what balance looks like for me (dwelling in coffee-shops for hours on end, full-time work, part time work) the only conclusion that I’ve come to is that I stress and delight with both schedules depending on my perspective that day. I still find that often I am still tipping the scale one way or the other towards something that is not entirely peaceful.
How is it that after a year of meditation and yoga practice I still experience stress and old thought patterns still creep up?
The thought of quitting my practice has not occurred to me. I am aware enough, that at least, that is is what keeps me grounded despite the waves of highs and lows.
And then it hit me…meditation is NOT going to solve my problems (damn it!). My mind is way too active to ever completely shut-up, and even though I know that the only thing permanent in this world is change, I still don’t always like it, and will respond in ways that sometimes are not always healthy. BUT, what my practice has done for me is make me more aware of the patterns; and allow me to be in those moments of stress and cravings without reacting to them.
Being in those moments reminds me to consciously set realistic goals for myself in which I will succeed, and understand that I will fall into potholes along the way.
Last Saturday morning I went for what was supposed to be an easy endurance 5 mile run. After a huge sugar binge the night before (I was babysitting) my body was feeling the comfort of my pillows and blanket and it was all I could do to pull myself out of bed and get out of the house. It ended up being a very slow walk-run of 5 miles. FAIL. But really? I biked all the way to the ocean. As I’m by the ocean, running along Crissy Fields on a crisp sunny day? Did I really fail? And won’t I have a chance to run again? Or is that it…?
We need to remember why we consciously choose the habits that we are cultivating or breaking. Strt a little at a time. Have patience. Engage ourselves in conversation even about why or why not we fell out again….and then just simply let it go to move forward.
January is just the beginning…