It's March 4th. Do you know where your New Year's resolutions are?
One of the intentions I set for myself this year (I prefer the term "intention" rather than "resolution" as I find it holds gentler and deeper meaning) was to focus on my writing as craft, and to do so, I would devote 10 minutes a day to writing practice. This would most often be done longhand, and following one of Amanda's prompts. I started strong early in the year, with a new notebook (!) dedicated to this purpose. And, most nights, I made the time to write. And then February happened.
Not. One. Page.
(Of course I do plenty of writing in my Moleskine journal but those pages have an entirely other purpose. Keeping me sane, for one. Keeping me clear.)
So last night, cuddled in bed against the biting bitter cold, with a hot rice bag tucked at my feet and a hot cup of tea at my elbow, I decided I would come back to writing practice. And the prompt? Return. Ha!
Isn't is such a beautiful word? There is a sound of comfort in it, an echo of home. Of the relief we feel when we come back to where we are meant to be.
To return is the basic meditation instruction. When we sit to begin our meditation practice, we place our attention on the breath, on the gentle, wavelike rising and falling of the breath. The idea is to keep our awareness on the breath throughout the whole allotted time, but the understanding is that our mind will inevitably get carried away from its object of attention. But the fact that the mind strays from its goal is not considered a problem. In fact, the hallmark of a successful meditation practice isn't whether or not the mind wanders, or how many times, but rather the gentleness and kindness with which we return our awareness to the breath. Meditation is the practice of starting over. And over. And over.
I feel that we very seldom allow gentleness and kindness to lead us when we set intentions to either start a new habit, or to release an old one that no longer serves. Instead, we muscle into it. We make brave and rigid promises about frequency and duration and give ourselves stern talking-tos about how we really mean it this time. And in doing so, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment because (say it with me!) to err is human. Launching a new habit or practice takes dedication, yes, but also a lot of time and kindness towards ourselves.
What if we entered this business of resolutions and intentions as we do a meditation practice? By taking it as a given that we will stray from our path, and not viewing such wanderings as a problem. What if we measured our success not by a strict adherence to our prescribed course, but rather gauged the worth of our efforts by the spirit of kindness with which we bring ourselves back to the path? What if we gave ourselves the grace of fresh new beginnings, not just in January but all the time, every day, with each breath? What would you begin again if you hadn't already convinced yourself you had failed? How would you return home?
Tell me. I'd love to know.
Find excellent meditation instruction here.
Following Write ALM's March Prompt-A-Day.
Having waaaayy too much fun with the Diana Photo App.