There is such joy in learning new things. Discovering the secrets of how things work, how things are done, understanding the clever systems and structures we’ve designed as a species to support our lives. The freshness of understanding something for the first time is a wonderful thing.

So much of what we’ve already learnt may have been useful and fit for purpose when we first learned it, or made it up on the run, but as our situations and environments have changed, it may no longer be so.

Letting go

It’s hard to let go of skills learned, adaptive habits that served us once but no longer do. They feel like they define us. It can feel like being cut adrift to let them go. And that is indeed what may be required to learn something new, to give ourselves a systems upgrade. Learning something new, not from the past, requires a considerable amount of letting go.

Where am I going with this? I’ve been thinking about this in relation to new year’s resolutions. I’m exploring what allows change to happen, whether resolutions are helpful and I’m pondering the importance of the assistance of others and of letting go to allow for new things to be learned. I didn’t ‘set’ any resolutions at new year, as I make resolutions in my daily, or almost daily, meditation practice. Over and over again examining my heart’s deepest longing and the steps I need to take from where I am to align with it.

A theme for the year

I do however, like to set a bit of theme for the year. I like the freshness of the new year, an opportunity to explore something new from the smorgasbord of life. This year, I’ve decided that it will be learning how to prune things. Huh? Yep, I’ve lived on acreage for over 20 years and I don’t prune anything! Hence the 20 foot cherry trees, the fruit of which, only birds can enjoy, the unkept clematis, cluttered citrus trees which aren’t particularly abundant and a westringia dominant, small cottage garden. I find Youtube very helpful but the wisdom of someone who’s been doing this for years would be far more effective I think.

A coach

I have a running coach. I grew up running a lot so it’s always something I go back to when I feel the need to improve my cardio fitness. I think I have a kind of cellular memory that gets activated quite easily whenever I go back to it. As an over 55 returning to running though, it didn’t come quite so easily. So I signed up with a coach. I love having a running coach. I feel like it gives my efforts more credibility and I take myself more seriously. She works out a plan for me, which keeps me accountable, she reminds me that I don’t have to catch up on a run when I miss it due to illness or unforeseen circumstances. She gives me information that helps me understand how my body is adapting to the training. It’s a great investment!

While running recently (the other bonus of running is that I often get ideas and insights) I had the idea that I should offer mindfulness coaching along a similar model to my running coach. I will work out a plan for you to keep you accountable, I’ll remind you that you don’t have to catch up when you miss a session and I’ll give you information about what might be happening with your brain as you continue to practice mindfulness. And, I’ll help you navigate some of the murky stuff that may surface as your practice progresses.

Hold resolutions lightly

What does that have to do with new year’s resolutions and learning new things? I’m trying to express that resolutions are fluid things, not simply set once and then automatically achieved. They need encouragement, commitment, a willingness to fail (and then try again), and an openness to accept that our pathway to them may be different to our expectations. They have a real power as long as we hold them, and the pathway we need to take towards them, lightly. I think they may be better shared in community so that we have support and encouragement as wind beneath our wings.

Extending peace into the future

We really do have the opportunity to find peace and extend it into our future in every – single – moment. It’s just those old habits of thinking are so ingrained! They come in so quickly. We think they define us. Practicing that little pause, finding some space around your experience, meeting it with love, gives you an opportunity to find something new, something not from the past. Something that is fresh, true, and that frees you from what has been holding you back. ‘Drop by drop the water pot is filled’, and over time those ingrained habits of mind can be replaced by something that aligns with your truest heart felt desire.

The power in each moment

Change is possible, in fact it is constantly happening all around us. And, the only time that anything actually happens is now. The gift of mindfulness is discovering the incredible power you have in each and every moment to choose your most appropriate response, which may be quite different from anything you’ve ever done before.

We don’t have to wait for a new year to change our unhelpful patterns and habits that don’t serve us, we have that opportunity every moment of every day. That said, the new year can also be a great time to take a new direction, renew a commitment or experiment with a new approach to life, relationships or work.

The work to be done is here and now

May you make ongoing resolutions for your whole year. Ones you set, forget, revisit, revise, reconsider and renounce. Your true, peaceful, whole self is already here, in this moment. Let it unfold and be known rather than striving away from it into an imagined/different/better future.

If resolutions are about making changes, let them be more about recognising that we are already whole and that there are only blockages that prevent that wholeness from shining into the world. The work to be done is here and now.