Screw Resolutions, What Are Your 2014 Aspirations?
Here is a practice I often give to my private Dharma students at the end of each year as we contemplate the year ahead.
The difference between a resolution and an aspiration is that a resolution usually lasts only for the first few days of the year, if that. An aspiration is Buddhism’s codeword for a long-term intention that we return to again and again and again. An aspiration forms the basis for a complete life path, not just a fad or impulsive decision. I’ll be talking about this in NYC on January 7 at the first Weekly Dharma gathering of the year at the Shambhala center.
Read on if you would like to engage in this contemplative and journaling practice as you prepare for 2014. I would do this practice in three steps.
1. You can contemplate your aspiration for your path for 2014 over the next few days, as you sit on your meditation cushion and actually ask the question “what is my aspiration? ” Leave a lot of space for whatever thoughts come up and don’t commit to any one aspiration too quickly, until the feeling of clarity is present.
2. I would recommend taking the time to actually write down what you come up with.
3. Then I recommend actually emailing or verbally sharing your aspiration with a mentor, teacher, therapist, or trusted friend. That way, somebody else can help you seal your aspirations formally and hold you accountable for it.
The contemplation is divided into two levels, outer and inner.
Outer: What is your plan for outer practice, study, courses, retreats, body practice, service work, or other forms of dharma practice in 2014? What would you like to aspire towards informally, or formally commit to taking on this year in terms of actual activities?
Inner: What are you working with right now internally, in terms of kleshas (ie karmic hangups or destructive tendencies), and what are you working with in terms of insights and positive tendencies you have cultivated thus far in your practice which you would like to take farther in 2014?
On both of these levels, notice if your tendency is to be vague and general, and see if you can make your aspirations specific and meaningful.
I hope this is in someway helpful. If not, then have a happy new year anyway. With every best wish for 2014, Ethan
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