Happy New Year!
For many people, the new year is a time for new beginnings, for fresh starts. We associate this fresh start with making new resolutions; new plans, new ambitions, new promises.
In fact, for a lot of people I've met in meditation centres and on retreats, spiritual life is all about making plans, resolutions and promises. Promising that we'll give up this, and work harder at that, and try to do better with the other.
It contrasts with the advice I got from Zen teachers, which was always, to sit without any plans; to let this moment be, without trying to change it in anyway.
Personally, I've often experienced a sense of newness, of freshness, at the start of January. And there must be some reason for this, because the "new year" is just an arbitrary point in time; a social convention rather than a fact of nature. I think it has nothing to do with the resolutions and plans we make for the future. In fact I think the opposite is true; the feeling of newness comes because, for brief day or two, we let go of all our old projects and aims.
The Christmas season ends, and all the preparation and socialising is done. The work of last year, whether completed or successful or not, has ended. And for maybe just a day, before we take up our new resolutions, everything is new.
Time is a strange phenomenon. It's hard to say if we experience time without the help of memory and thinking about the future. Much of our experience of time comes from our ambitions and fears: these give the feeling of time running out, or dragging on. In periods of happiness, when we don't think too much, we don't notice the time.
When the step away (even temporarily) from our plans and intentions, we experience a kind of freedom. We can step aside from the story we tell ourselves about our life and its progress, and experience the world anew. It may be momentary, but it's always available, not just in January.
We'll be holding a meditation morning on Saturday 21 January in our usual venue. All are welcome.
10.20 - 11:00 Silent meditation
11:00 - 11:20 Tea break
11:20 - 11:50 Silent meditation
11:50 - 12.50 Silent sitting / discussion
12:50 - 13:00 Final silence