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Moving into the New Year and Letting Go of The Old

By on Feb 15, 2017 in Life Skills, Therapy & Change | 0 comments

IMG_0549Facing the promise as we traverse a new year and reflecting on the year that was, I am struck by how easy it is to dread or feel foreboding for the new year, particularly when 2016 was so tumultuous. Our brains are programed to focus on negative information first. It is likely a survival instinct but with the mindboggling amount of information we have to process in 2017, much of which is negative, I suggest we train our minds to access that which is useful and soul inspiring not the useless and destructive bits of information that clog our minds and deaden our spirit.

 

Despite living in Canada with a Liberal and progressive leaning government, many of us were impacted by the US election rhetoric and result! The election of a person to the office of president who is antithetical to a position that requires a responsible, balanced and skilled candidate has really left many of us aghast. I am not going to belabor the issue because it certainly is not useful nor inspiring to the soul.

 

Many people have pointed out also that not everyone has been stopped in their tracks. Bernie Sanders, who lost the U. S. presidential nomination and his party lost the White House is not grousing and complaining, he appears to be standing by his principles and strong in opposition to forces that would regress civil rights, civility and progressive and positive changes that President Obama and others have enacted.

 

Therefore I have adopted the motto Dig in, resist and challenge for 2017. Einstein asserted that we cannot change things at the level of which they are therefore I have decided to look for the nuggets of gold in the rocks and dirt we have been served. I also look to wise teachers who see the big picture and are not pulled into the mud and dirt at the bottom of the pit of despair.

 

Thich Knat Hahn in his book No Mud No Lotus does exactly that. When we accept that suffering is part of life and that we can be happy despite that fact then we can begin to change our reality. We can be happy today, not wait for something to happen to be finally happy. Since we really only have the present it seems that it is a rather practical thing to do.

 

His five practices that nurture happiness starts with letting go. Our mind gets stuck when we believe we need certain things for happiness, a job, money, a person, and material things. We hang onto material things, ideas and people long after their usefulness expires. We hang onto them because we are afraid what letting go will mean “and then what?” The familiar is comfortable the unknown is not. We are captured by the advertising industry and consumer spending, making us think we need this and that.

 

Starting a new year is a great opportunity to reflect at what we want to bring with us into 2017. More than ever I think it is important to take the time to reflect and then act. Dig in, do the work then resist the urge to hang on and feel comfortable and then challenge ourselves to let go of those things that no longer serve us.

 

Number two on the list is inviting positive seeds. This means attending to the positive, resisting our mind’s focus on the negative. To every negative there is an upside. The fact that the US election has increased the vitriol, chaos and negativity in the country upsetting liberals and progressives offers an opportunity to reflect on our values and beliefs. What do we believe in? What kind of behavior is acceptable in the public realm? Is the election a threat to civil rights or our physical safety? How important is it in the realm of things? What should we, could we do? Do we cut and run or stand up to regressive practices or potential tyranny?

 

What seeds lying dormant in our unconscious could we bring to awareness and nurture and grow? What alternate stories do we want to tell about ourselves? Are we recognizing and taking opportunities that arrive on our doorstep or is our fear of the unknown stymying us?

This reminds me of the story of the grandfather who tells his grandchildren about the good wolf and bad wolf inside us who are always fighting with each other. The children ask him which one wins and he tells them “the one you feed”. If we feed the good seeds they grow and mature. The negative ones do not grow. If we focus on the past we are feeding negative memories and suffering. Those seeds grow and take over our life, keeping us stuck.

 

We have an opportunity in 2017 to feed new growth in ourselves. When we let go of 2016 and any challenges or difficulties, we start anew. We are free to choose what kind of year we will have. The year might bring dirt and mud but our lotus will not bloom without it. We do not become who we are without challenge. It is really how we choose to respond and focus our energy.

 

 

 

 

 

Facing the promise as we traverse a new year and reflecting on the year that was, I am struck by how easy it is to dread or feel foreboding for the new year, particularly when 2016 was so tumultuous. Our brains are programmed to focus on negative information first. It is likely a survival instinct but with the mind boggling amount of information we have to process in 2017, much of which is negative, I suggest we train our minds to access that which is useful and soul inspiring not the useless and destructive bits of information that clog our minds and deaden our spirit.

Despite living in Canada with a Liberal and progressive leaning government, many of us were impacted by the US election rhetoric and result! The election of a person to the office of president who is antithetical to a position that requires a responsible, balanced and skilled candidate has really left many of us aghast. I am not going to belabor the issue because it certainly is not useful nor inspiring to the soul.

Many people have pointed out also that not everyone has been stopped in their tracks. Bernie Sanders, who lost the U. S. presidential nomination and his party lost the White House is not grousing and complaining, he appears to be standing by his principles and strong in opposition to forces that would regress civil rights, civility and progressive and positive changes that President Obama and others have enacted.

Therefore I have adopted the motto Dig in, resist and challenge for 2017. Einstein asserted that we cannot change things at the level of which they are therefore I have decided to look for the nuggets of gold in the rocks and dirt we have been served. I also look to wise teachers who see the big picture and are not pulled into the mud and dirt at the bottom of the pit of despair.

Thich Knat Hahn in his book No Mud No Lotus does exactly that. When we accept that suffering is part of life and that we can be happy despite that fact then we can begin to change our reality. We can be happy today, not wait for something to happen to be finally happy. Since we really only have the present it seems that it is a rather practical thing to do.

His five practices that nurture happiness starts with letting go. Our mind gets stuck when we believe we need certain things for happiness, a job, money, a person, and material things. We hang onto material things, ideas and people long after their usefulness expires. We hang onto them because we are afraid what letting go will mean “and then what?” The familiar is comfortable the unknown is not. We are captured by the advertising industry and consumer spending, making us think we need this and that.

Starting a new year is a great opportunity to reflect at what we want to bring with us into 2017. More than ever I think it is important to take the time to reflect and then act. Dig in, do the work then resist the urge to hang on and feel comfortable and then challenge ourselves to let go of those things that no longer serve us.

Number two on the list is inviting positive seeds. This means attending to the positive, resisting our mind’s focus on the negative. To every negative there is an upside. The fact that the US election has increased the vitriol, chaos and negativity in the country upsetting liberals and progressives offers an opportunity to reflect on our values and beliefs. What do we believe in? What kind of behavior is acceptable in the public realm? Is the election a threat to civil rights or our physical safety? How important is it in the realm of things? What should we, could we do? Do we cut and run or stand up to regressive practices or potential tyranny?

What seeds lying dormant in our unconscious could we bring to awareness and nurture and grow? What alternate stories do we want to tell about ourselves? Are we recognizing and taking opportunities that arrive on our doorstep or is our fear of the unknown stymying us?

This reminds me of the story of the grandfather who tells his grandchildren about the good wolf and bad wolf inside us who are always fighting with each other. The children ask him which one wins and he tells them “the one you feed”. If we feed the good seeds they grow and mature. The negative ones do not grow. If we focus on the past we are feeding negative memories and suffering. Those seeds grow and take over our life, keeping us stuck.

We have an opportunity in 2017 to feed new growth in ourselves. When we let go of 2016 and any challenges or difficulties, we start anew. We are free to choose what kind of year we will have. The year might bring dirt and mud but our lotus will not bloom without it. We do not become who we are without challenge. It is really how we choose to respond and focus our energy.

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Dr. Denise Hall

Through Dragonfly Counselling I offer you affordable counselling, therapy, information and support services that can improve the quality of your life.

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