Every year on January 1st we are all bombarded with messages about self improvement. Gym membership ads on social media, radio news reports about the newest weight loss diet, apps to help you meditate more, newscasters discussing ways to save more money and more. It seems like everywhere you turn people are discussing their New Year’s Resolutions and all the things about themselves they will change. Your sister will stop drinking so much, your friend will run everyday, your neighbor resolves to follow a new diet, the list goes on and on.
There’s nothing wrong with resolving to make changes, but I encourage you to examine your motivation for changing. Are you resolving to lose weight or read more because you feel like there’s something wrong with your current weight or reading habits? Do you want to change because you believe (whether knowingly or not) that there is something wrong with you? Do you believe you are not enough as you are now?
So often one’s drive to change comes from fear, self- hatred, blame and deep feelings of isolation and unworthiness. We feel as if exercising more or eating differently will somehow “fix” us, but what if we don’t need fixing? What if you are already whole and beautiful as is? What if the qualities you dislike about yourself didn’t make you different than others or unworthy of love? What if you recognized that your perceived flaws are what make you human? What if you sent love to your darkest places and worked to change because you love yourself and deep down you know the change would allow you to live more fully?
This year, instead of resolving to change or improve, I’m resolving to remember that I already am whole and deserving of life’s splendors as I am now. The contemporary Indian master Bapuji writes:
My beloved child,
Break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart.
You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come, your time
To live, celebrate and to see the goodness you are…
Let no one, no thing, no idea or ideal obstruct you
If one comes, even in the name of “Truth,” forgive it for its unknowing
Do not fight.
And breathe– into the goodness you are.
This year will you let go of the stories you tell yourself about your unworthiness and breathe into the goodness you are?
If you’d like you can turn the poem above into a gatha (a short verse that helps you practice mindfulness). Repeat the lines in your head or softly aloud while breathing in and out.
The time (breathing in)
Has come (breathing out)
Your time (breathing in)
To let go (breathing out)
And breathe (breathing in)
Just breathe (breathing out)
Into the goodness (breathing in)
You are (breathing out)
You can repeat this gatha during a traditional sitting or walking meditation or repeat it at a time when the negative voices in your head are strong. If you try it out, please let me know how it goes!