Change and the New Year
There are many different calendars in use in the world today, but in those which derive from the old Roman calendar, January 1 marks the New Year. Much of the importance of this day is a late effect of the turning of the year at the winter solstice, which precedes the New Year by about 10 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice is the longest night of the year, and it marks the return of the Sun, for from this day forward the days grow longer.
This is seen as a sort of rebirth, much like the daily solar cycle. The Egyptians depicted the Sun being swallowed by Nuit, Night, each evening and then being born from her each morning. The rebirth symbolism is also seen in all the solar gods, who traditionally are born in a cave at midnight on the winter solstice.
This energy of new beginnings fits logically with the making of New Year’s resolutions. Since it is a new beginning for the year, it seems appropriate for this to be a new beginning for us. The basic idea here is change.
If we are satisfied, or had been satisfied, with who we are, or how our lives were, then it is likely we would not be on a spiritual path. The essence of spiritual progress is for us to change into something better, or different. One of the western magical teachers has said, “You cannot become an adept and remain as you are.”
The western esoteric curriculum has often been divided into ten steps. Each of these has a quality, a hindrance, and an indicator. The indicator for the very first step is “The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.”
This phrase is almost universally misunderstood. Most people imagine it to refer to some discussion that one holds with a disembodied entity. Actually, the word “conversation” in this phrase is an archaic term which means “lifestyle” or “behavior.” What this phrase actually means is that once someone realizes she is a spiritual being, or that she has a spiritual destiny, then her life will change. She will not remain the same person that she was.
If we expect to change, and we want to change, then making New Year’s resolutions would seem to fit right in. Experience shows, however, that change is easier said than done. It has been said that most people do well if they make just one major change in themselves in their entire lifetime. And so, if it is really this hard, getting some help would be a good idea. Therefore, I want to offer my thoughts on how to make meaningful change.
Firstly, I would advise not making any new resolutions, or perhaps making just one. The one I would advise making is to merely hold the intention to change. Nothing specific. Do not force change by an act of the mind, but allow it to bubble up as a heartfelt yearning. If your heart is not already aching about something you want to change, then just wait and hold the aspiration to change as the Light directs.
Secondly, for those areas in which you already feel the push to change, adopt some strategies to help you succeed.
Like everything in spirituality, successful change requires a combination of Intention, Will, and Vitality. The thing you want to change is your intention. The reason you fail at it is due to the lack of Will and Vitality.
The Vitality part of this might seem surprising, but Vitality powers everything spiritual. This is why if you want to meditate daily, it is best to try to do it early in the day, when Vitality is strong. If you are giving in to temptations, you are actually weaker and more likely to succumb later in the day when Vitality is lower.
How to strengthen Will? In meditation we strengthen Will by using a focus for our concentration, what is sometimes called supported Will. It is easier to focus on an object, whether physical or imagined, than it is to focus on nothing.
In matters of lifestyle, support takes a different form. One way to strengthen Will is to use a schedule. This is one of the principles behind monastic life. The monk or nun did not have to decide when to pray or meditate. This was scheduled, regimented, and done with regularity. It is the same with us. We set up a schedule for meditation, yoga, or worship, and then we stick with it. We don’t have to decide when to do it, for we already know. We need not ask ourselves if we feel like meditating or going to our altar today, for example, because we always do.
Another way is to anticipate interruptions to the schedule. If, for example, we know we will be travelling on a certain day, and our regular schedule will be interrupted, then we figure out, in advance, when we have to sit in order to make it happen, and plan accordingly. If we know our regular meditation time will conflict with something we cannot avoid, then we plan around it.
I have found it useful to anticipate rhythms, rather than just letting them surprise me. If you know that you typically lose your temper when you are trying to get your children to do their homework, then you figure out in advance what your ideal behavior would be in that stressful situation, and then you prepare to carry that out. If you are trying to stop smoking, and you know that you crave smoking after a meal, then figure out in advance an alternative activity for that time period. If you tend to drink too much when you stop at the pub on Friday afternoon, then plan ahead to prevent that situation from occurring.
Whenever possible, create accountability. Get a meditation partner and check on each other. It is even better to get two partners, because “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccl 4:12) I personally use a meditation app called “Insight Timer,” for this not only creates accountability, but it give me little stars to mark my progress. It may seem silly, but it works! A number of substance abuse programs use buddies or partners to create accountability.
This time, into the coming year, is a very good time to change. The inner forces of transformation which are running through the group mind of the Drukama practitioners are very strong. Conditions are perfect for each of us to make a quantum leap in awareness. Let us all hold the intention to make this giant step forward. Let each of us have the Will and Vitality to make it happen.
On behalf of all of us at Drukama, including our venerable abbot, Daishi Nagiyah, may all reading these words be blessed without measure in the coming year. I love you all.
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