Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Tree is Still Up

In our house, the Christmas tree is still up and will stay up for a while longer.  The tree is still up and lit every morning and every evening, because Elliot is still singing Christmas carols from the back seat while we drive around town.  He's still in the mood for the holiday, even through we are "back to school."  Last night, we watched Rudolf's Shiny New Year and The Year Without a Santa Claus.  We ate Christmas cookies that I reserved in the freezer and drank tea.

I'm not in a hurry for things to be packed away.  While it's Christmas, there's a feeling of loving kindness and generosity that is added into daily life. There's an extra amount of gratitude for family, friends, and community.

On Christmas morning, I received a very generous gift card for Barnes and Noble from my mom, and have been enjoying the spoils of my shopping spree.  I've just finished The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.  This book is really wonderful. I loved it even though I am not really a student of Yoga or eastern spiritual practices.  I've decided not to write a proper review with details because upon immediate completion, I might praise it too highly and make it sound like a solution for pain, misery and the struggle of life.

  However, I do appreciate that it contains a very simple practice method for letting problems and emotions burn through the heart quickly in order get to a place that feels happy.  After reading several chapters, I realized that I regularly cling to problems.  I let them cycle through my thoughts like a washing machine with no automatic shut off mechanism.  One problem will fade to the background only when another shiny new problem presents itself.  Over time I end up developing a cluster of problems to attend to, that I think I need to solve or apply a creative fix.

  I also recognized that I regularly concentrate and focus on problems until I am depleted.  Was it the academic training of critical essay writing that taught me to keep searching for solutions or ways to beef up my arguments?  Was it the practice of long hours of focused concentration on a project or paper that transferred to my relationships and life?

After reading Singer's book, I have decided to notice when I am using the old "college try" method to fix up my problems.  That doesn't mean that I will be less thoughtful or want to think deeply about something, it just means that I will stop attacking my problems in an intense struggle to figure everything out and get satisfactory answers.  I am going to practice letting things arise as they naturally will, and observe the speed at which they burn through my heart and mind so that I can feel more occasions of peace.

It's not a New Year's resolution, but a new life resolution.

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