A new year has a very special effect: it makes us feel like we have the chance to start over, to do things right this time, to make amends, to become the person we really know we can be. Hence all those resolutions made with such determination.
So why does it take a new year to make us feel like this? Why is it that for 364 days we live with regret, doubt, holding on to what we did wrong and wishing we hadn’t, or dreaming of a future that can never happen because it doesn’t exist?
No matter how hard we would like to, there’s one thing we can never do and that’s change the past. We can weep, beat our fists against the wall, even eat bars of chocolate to assuage the guilt, but it won’t make the slightest bit of difference and won’t make us feel any better. The past is gone, over, no more, done.
Continuing to wish that our actions or words had been different means we’re really not in the present but are living in what-could-have-been or what-might-have-been or if-only. If the past is too painful or even too boring then we switch over to the future, that place of infinite potential that we want to believe could be real, like wishful thinking or a daydream. We live in what-might-be or what-could-be.
Of course we can learn from the past. Often the most painful experience turns out to be our best teacher; we can be grateful as the experience taught us so much. Memories can be like comfortable old shoes we are reluctant to part with. We can certainly put them on now and then, but we don’t have to hang out in them on a permanent basis.
Instead we can change our attitude toward what happened. Fully accepting that the past is irreversible and the future does not exist means we can actually just be in the present moment. Finally we can be here and now. Wow! What a relief! What a revelation!
Today is a very special day. It has never happened before and it will never happen again. And we have no idea what will come next. The greatest wonder is never being able to know what will happen next. No matter how hard we try, the future will always be ahead of us.
So what a great time just to be here now! The perfect day to let the past rest where it is and let the future take care of itself. As is every day. To experience just this moment, to pay attention to the colors, sounds, smells and sensations. To pay attention to our feelings, to other people’s feelings, and to make this day, this week, this month, and this year, one of beauty and tenderness.
See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Gangaji, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie, and others.
Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman and Winner of the 2010 Nautilus Gold Book Award. Deb is the author of the bestselling book, YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award. They are featured bloggers on Oprah.com/spirit, HuffingtonPost.com/Living, and Care2.com. They have 3 meditation CD’s: Metta — Loving Kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi – Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra – Inner Conscious Relaxation. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com
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