As we are nearing the end of the year, it is in our nature to assess how things have gone in the last 12 months and to look forward to what we are hoping for and working toward in the next 12. We have the ability to create the mind, body and life that we are living in and now is the time to start wrapping our minds around who we want to be. We also recognize that if we want to get a different outcome, we must do some things differently.
As we look at a new year and a new decade beginning, the thought of where to start to really get where we want to go can be overwhelming. As a starting point, this week and next, we will look at ten ethical teachings that invite us to assess our thoughts, speech and actions with curiosity in order to shift how we are living and who we are becoming. These teachings are relatively easy to understand, but can be challenging to put into practice. However, when we do, we can experience more joy, peace and connection in our lives.
The first teaching is kindness in thoughts, speech and action toward ourselves and others. Believe me, I know that this may not be easy to practice at ALL TIMES. (I too am a driver on the city streets…) However, if we can practice the underlying intention of doing no harm, we can move through the day with more ease, knowing that we are adding to the greater good. This teaching can soften us on a deeper level and our intention will guide our words, thoughts and behaviors. This teaching asks us to also look inward and to get curious about how we are treating ourselves. At times, we are harder on ourselves than anyone else and we must work toward being our own friend. This teaching asks us to remember that everyone, including ourselves, is struggling in some way and will benefit greatly from a little kindness.
The second teaching is truthfulness in our speech, but also in our thoughts, intentions and actions. This teaching asks us to combine kindness with our truth tellling and to share our truth from a place of caring. We are also asked to live as who we truly are, from a place of authenticity and integrity with our values. This teaching asks us to recognize the stories that we make up in our minds and the ways that we lie to ourselves about what is really going on in a situation or in our lives. We must assess if our beliefs and behaviors are truly helpful for us any longer or not. Doing this can help us to recognize how we may be making things harder on ourselves than they have to be. And so, again, a little practice of self-compassion can be helpful.
The third teaching is around the idea of refraining from stealing from ourselves and others through judging, coveting, comparison and limiting beliefs. We are living in a culture of comparison and judgment. This can support our feeling “less than” in many ways and can lead us to even more competition with the world around us in an attempt to prove that we are good enough. When we believe that we CANNOT do something, that we ARE NOT __________ enough or that we WILL NEVER live up to the expectations that we or others have set, we are stealing from our own potential to become who we truly want to be. We are stealing from our own potential for growth. And when we compare and compete with others, wishing their successes had happened to us rather than practicing being happy for them, we are stealing from their positive energy. This teaching may require some practice in forgiveness to move forward and gratitude to recognize all of the good.
The fourth teaching is about using our energy to move us closer to who we want to be and the life we want to live by making good choices and recognizing where we may be burning ourselves out. If we take a curious look at our daily routine, we may be able to pinpoint where we can make changes to support our own health and energy reserves. Are we getting enough sleep? Are we eating energy-filled, cell-building real food? Are we moving our bodies and quieting our minds? Or are we using our time in ways that is keeping us from achieving our goals? Are we drinking or eating too much or to numb out? Are we spending time with people who are contributing to our stagnation? This teaching is not asking us to stop having fun and doing the things that we enjoy, but rather to remember that moderation can be key and that small improvements can lead to big shifts.
The fifth and final teaching for this week is letting go of attachment to things, relationships, experiences and expectations. We are trained by very effective advertising to believe that we need things outside of us to be happy, that a pill can fix everything, or that we will be happy when we have/achieve/get/attain the thing. However, it is all an inside job and if we are relying on things or other people to make us sustainably happy, we will be disappointed. Letting go of the clutter of things in our physical environment can clear up space in our mental and emotional environments which enables us to better cope with whatever we are experiencing. This teaching is also asking that we recognize that our expectations often set us up for disappointment. We miss out on enjoying the moment by comparing the moment to what we expected it to be, look like or feel like.
In the next week, let’s begin to assess if we are stuck in patterns that aren’t helpful and to redirect where we are heading in the next year. Let the curious exploration begin so that intentions can be set enabling us to become who we really want to be.
Remember that we aren’t aiming for perfection here, just the intention of doing our best.
As always, I will be practicing right along with you. And next week, we will look at the other five teachings.
Chat again soon,