January theme: New Beginnings
Approach January with a Beginner's Mind
Many cultures, including mine, start a new calendar year in the bleak mid-winter. There is an element of optimism and encouragement in this practice. Our hearts can see, when we choose to attend to it, the new birth and growth that lay ahead, even when our eyes see only grayness and dormancy.
Much of the growth that will show up in a few months, remains hidden underneath the ground (or snow for those of our members in Northern climes) or inside the tree branches. But we know it is coming, because it comes this way year after year. We know from our experience. We are sure of it. So sure of it that all too often we take it for granted.
What if you didn't know this seasonal pattern? Winter might be more concerning, but Spring would be such a wondrous surprise! And likely, we would notice things in the Spring that we usually miss. We might have more curiosity, energy, and motivation to explore and learn about all these marvelous surprises.
This is Beginner's Mind. Those of our members who have been meditating for years have heard this encouragement before. Keep a beginner's mind, regardless of how long you have been doing this practice. Try to see things as if for the first time, with new eyes. Well, here we are saying it to you again (and to ourselves). Pride, habit, repetition, boredom all interfere with our keeping our Beginner's Mind despite the teaching and advice. So we start it again, whenever we notice that we have lost it, again.
When paying attention to the millionth in-breath, is there really anything remotely possibly new or interesting about it? The answer is “yes!”, when you are paying attention with your Beginner's Mind. Attending to something AS IF this were the first time you ever encountered it.
Those of our members who are very new to meditation, you actually have an advantage in this because as far as Beginner's Mind, you are already there. It is perfectly fine that you do not know what you are doing. Everything is new, and that is just the way it should be.
For all, put away Judgments, preconceptions and Let Go of any expectations. Let your experience Be what it will be. There is no “should”, just “is”. Be Curious. Allow Wonder. Show Kindness and Patience toward yourself. It's OK to Fear. Pay attention to that fear and learn to Trust. Accept what comes as it comes. Share your experience Generously with others. See the Humor in the surprises and ironies that appear. Don't Strive to make anything in particular happen. Be Grateful for whatever does happen and for those who help and those whom you help along the way.
See if you can find the Capitalized words in the paragraph above, among the Monthly themes and attitudes listed through out the calendar year. It just goes to emphasize how everything is intertwined. It is all related. Work on one small aspect and you will soon find that you are working on many others at the same time. Open your Wondrous Beginner's Mind to this.