Tuesday, January 6, 2015

At your worst and at your best, you are light and limitless.

Happy New Year, friends! I'm feeling energized for 2015 after a nice end to last year. We finished our classes with As, enjoyed some relaxing vacation days, and hosted Christmas at our new place! Seeing old friends over the holidays provided a special reminder of the importance of nurturing the healthiest relationships in our lives -- those that bring out the best in us. I can happily say that a balance of rest and time with friends helped me to completely avoid those holiday nostalgia traps that used to greet me every year as soon as the first Christmas songs came on the radio!

I was happier in 2014 than I have been in any previous year. I credit an increased understanding that our perception equates our reality. I have chosen to be happy more often than I have demanded to be right; I have spent more time considering and pursuing my goals and much less time reflecting on my regrets. At the outset of this project, I thought the best way to achieve my goal of holistic happiness in body and mind was to attain what I now see as just another definition of perfection. I thought if I could live as well as possible in every area of my life: exercise religiously, eat only the healthiest foods, always get great sleep, and excel in my meditation practice, then I would finally find an illusive state of serenity: the center of the seesaw.

In the process, I've found that there is both truth and danger in the "optimal performance in all areas" approach. Yes, exercise greatly improves so many areas of life: energy, focus, strength, vitality, mood, and self-esteem. Yes, our bodies function much better if we feed ourselves lots of nutrients without eating to excess: high quality proteins, leafy greens, good fats, and an array of colors and flavors. True, restorative sleep is essential. True, a regular meditation practice can help us to remain centered in our selves and aware of the superficial. I still strive to find balance with all of these positive habits and behaviors.

But, I've realized that it's not perfection in each of these areas that yields my best quality of life. In fact, striving for perfection has, at various times, caused me discomfort, stress, self-loathing, neuroses, and has distanced me from others and from experiences that I would have otherwise embraced. Perfection is the opposite of the answer. Total Body Happiness is actually our ability to cope with imperfection, to live amidst this swirling, tumultuous, uncertain reality with its highs and lows and joys and sorrows.

Keep calm and listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn!
When you screw things up and you feel screwed up, honesty is the answer. When you find yourself in a sea of blame and disappointment, forgiveness is the answer. When you feel lost, ignored, forgotten, or excluded, love is the answer. When you feel so far away from where you want to be, faithful determination is the answer. Make the most of your human moments, because you won't be free of them within your lifetime. Allow yourself to feel as you feel, and just see what there is to learn from it -- don't put yourself down or write yourself off just because things aren't ideal. The present moment is always an opportunity to offer goodness to yourself and those around you. You are not your worst moments, quite the opposite: you are always alive within a brand new opportunity that is just as light and as limitless as you believe yourself to be.

What aspects of yourself do you want to nourish in 2015?