You really can do it this year. The reason your results will be different will be because you’ll be using a completely different approach. All we need to do is chart a clear, simple path into the new year. We want small, daily steps so that nothing feels overwhelming and yet over time you finally start getting somewhere.
To begin you need to accepting some fundamental ideas. They’re not difficult, but they are a bit radical because; rather than being things that you understand, these are things that you enact, or do, or even better: be. Idea One: Forget trying to understand, you already know. You need to act.
People tend to think they’re on a ladder, and they imagine that when they get to a certain height that the ladder ends and they can suddenly see in every direction and then it’s all clear going forward. That’s what they think enlightenment is. But up and down is an ego thing, and enlightenment isn’t really up from ego, it’s more the other side of it. The real you is like the light that travels through your thinking and forms the shadow that is your ego. You’re not trying to escape it, you’re trying to understand it.
Rather than being on a ladder, imagine you’re standing in a beautiful and sometimes dangerous landscape. Ego is like walking around in a blindfold. Enlightenment is merely taking your blindfold off so that you can make sure your individual steps are as good as they can be. You want to walk near the flowers and streams, not near the sharp rocks and thorns.
Idea Two: regardless of how clear your vision is, there are places where you can be cornered by cacti and the only way out is to get poked. That’s nature, that’s life. Those places are a part of any healthy garden. But if you’ll allow that reality then you get to take your blindfold off. There’s not that many places where you’ll get completely trapped, and at least with the blindfold off you won’t be you trapping yourself unnecessarily.
So there’s the two things you need to accept to begin: that things can’t be perfect, but having accepted that fact your only job now is to actually enact your mental and emotional and spiritual health as an action in your own life. Forget trying to understand, live your wisdom instead.
Each week I’ll start us off on Mondays with an objective designed to increase your understanding, peace and strength. These will be simple actions that will expand who you are as a person over time. We’ll finish off this first week with some preparation and then next Monday we’ll begin with the actual assignments.
I would recommend you find a partner or group to undertake these exercises with. It will help a lot if you can avoid gossip and instead meditatively discuss your results and also learn from each other’s experiences. We’ll also try to use a little friendly competition to keep you on your awareness toes.
So this is it. You can do it if you want to. Or you can distract yourself with more ego-focused types of temporary satisfaction. You can shop, or binge-watch or get high. You won’t get judged either way; you can live either life. But if you want to travel the path that fewer take, the one deeper into the garden, then these posts can hold the signs that guide you along your journey.
Now relax and enjoy or accomplish things in your own life for the rest of the day. You have no self-improvement required until you read again tomorrow. Then you’ll have a simple task and then your trainer will let you off the hook and you can relax or accomplish things again. These little tests often won’t seem like much. But over time these steps absolutely will take you where you’ve been wanting to get to.
We’ll cover a few more arrangements over the next few days and then on Monday you begin. The commitment to do so is the first part, so congratulations on that already. Happy New Year. Thank you.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.