December 31st is a time for New Year’s Resolutions. The end of January is the time a lot of people abandon them. Many factors may be involved: the goal was too broad, too unrealistic, or the time wasn’t right to make the change. Sometimes, resolutions are abandoned because we didn’t stick with them, and starting over again feels like a failure. Starting over forces us to admit that we didn’t follow through, for whatever reason, and now we are back at square one. Bummer.
We can view having to start over again as evidence of our personal failings, but there are plenty of negative thoughts to go along with that mindset. For example: “I couldn’t keep up;” or “I just wasn’t motivated enough;” or “I wasn’t any good anyway.” Negative thoughts lead to negative moods. But what if we change our perspective? We could think of starting over as a new opportunity, or a new beginning. A chance to try again, using the knowledge we have gained. This definition opens us to hope, and a willingness to move forward. See the difference?
Meditation gives us a daily opportunity to practice starting over. We actually expect the mind to wander and get distracted. Then we get to let go of the thoughts, without judgment or negativity, and start over. As many times as it takes. You can see that meditation also allows us to view starting over with acceptance and neutrality. Translated into real life, meditation helps us to view ourselves and others with those same qualities. As Sharon Salzberg, one of my favorite meditation teachers, said: “Beginning again and again is the actual practice, not a problem to overcome.” Luckily, life is full of new beginnings. If your resolutions aren’t going the way you intended, view it as a great opportunity to start again. As many times as it takes.