Starting over


In the Christian liturgical tradition today is the last day of the year, with Advent starting this evening,  marking the start of a New Year. It is as good a time as any other to make this change, and certainly less commercial and not as hyped than the 31st of December. One way or the other,  there are themes in nature and in different cultures at this time of the year and as winter approaches – letting go, slowing down, taking stock, welcoming change, seeking more light in the dark corners of our hearts:

For last year’s words
belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words
await another voice.

And to make an end
is to make a beginning.

T.S. Eliot

What needs to be let go


A short quote today from Andy Puddicombe, creator of the Headspace site, which does well in demystifying meditation and presenting it in a modern format. Some people have told me that they find their app a useful way of keeping their practice going, and in this modern age, technology can be sometimes helpful, even if its overall effect may be to fragment our capacity for attention. You may like to check it out here:

The journey to acceptance is about discovering what we need to let go of, rather than what we need to start doing. By noticing moments of resistance throughout the day, you can start to become more aware of what prevents acceptance from naturally arising. This in turn will allow you to view the thoughts and feelings that arise during your meditation with a much greater sense of ease.

Andy Puddicombe, Ten Tips for Living more Mindfully

Living in the future

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A lot of our anxiety comes from what we imagine the future to be like, and how we tend to fill in the worst possible scenarios and seem to not imagine positive alternatives. I have noticed since returning to Ireland that a lot of media time is taken up by discussions of possible disasters and downturns which may soon befall the country, particularly in the economic realm. Since, as the Roman poet Terence reminded us,  there are as many opinions as there are people, this speculation only succeeds in maintaining a sense of anxious rumination, without always having any solid base. It can often be the same in our personal stories, and therefore a good remedy can be simply to recognize our mental chatter for what it is and practice staying in the present.

Just as we tend to treat the details of future events that we do imagine as though they were actually going to happen, we have an equally troubling tendency to treat the details of future events that we don’t imagine as though they were not going to happen. In other words, we fail to consider how much imagination fills in, but we also fail to consider how much it leaves out.

Dan Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

picture:  “The Future Man” by Paul Klee

Noticing the pictures

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People think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might have happened instead of what did happen, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.

Mark Hadden, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

photo pucky2012