Begin Again, 2022
An aspect of meditation has been bugging me for years. I often felt like I was a failure when my mind would stray AGAIN. I found myself impatient, saying, “you blew it.” I heard a teacher today who said a wandering thought was an expected reminder to “begin again,” it's natural. If I don’t beat myself up for needing to breathe again, why do I need to be rancorous about bringing my attention back? Today, when the sound of rain on the flue sent my mind off envisioning a forthcoming drive, I told myself, “began again.” No accompanying punishment for a change. Every few breaths, as another random thought appeared, I repeated, “begin again.” That wise teacher had reassured me that the mind wandering IS the process, expected and normal. She helped quell my exasperation with myself and unsurprisingly, it was a more refreshing meditation.
Many of us are experiencing exasperation and a sense of being “back again” to the start of 2021. Instead of a feeling of compassion and patience for the circumstances and process, feeling sad or discouraged is understandable. We’re still more isolated than we want to be, not free to travel when and wherever we want, and there’s the continued worry for our own health and that of our loved ones. And we’re grieving for what’s been lost—opportunities, events, and people.
I was speaking with a client right before new year’s. She was focused on the “blew it” parts of the last year—unfulfilled expectations and messed up plans, anger that we aren’t further along, and a sinking feeling that we’ll never get out of this. On a given day, it could be any of us who find our reserves low. In her case, being overworked for far too long and being the rock others count on added up to a case of gloom. Could this be you, too? In that mental state it’s impossible to see what has improved. But truthfully, much is better now than it was in January 2021. It’s just not where we want it to be.
You’ve got my permission (not that you need it) to feel low and cranky but I’ll also remind you that where you’re focused is never the whole story. Even in the face of disruption at every level, my client had major successes in 2021. Those high points had retreated with a disappointing holiday fresh in her mind. Not long ago I wrote about the fleeting pleasure that comes with our accomplishments. It’s just how we are—never satisfied for long, our eyes turned to something just out of reach. That’s when we’re “back again” and could benefit from compassion for ourselves. Maybe this is when we should rely on others to remind us that our personal story has more texture and depth—and success. We can be that mirror for each other.
If you’re feeling blue right now, it’s okay. Remind yourself it’s the way of things and “begin again.” Just as breath comes and goes, thoughts and emotions are ephemeral, too. Circumstances are fluid. In 2022, get on out there to collect a plethora of positive experiences for review on December 31st. I’ll be there to remind you to remember them. Happy new year!