New Year, New Me

“It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don't have to run into the future in order to get more.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

As we move into the New Year may we do so with mindfulness and a focus on our heart and soul. The word resolution can often have a heavy tone and negative association.

It may remind us of intentions unmet and regrets. Mindfulness is of course a coming home practice, a practice that helps us to see clearly and see things as they are.

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in the above quote that we have so many conditions of happiness, more than enough to be happy right here and now.

Every year in Plum Village for the New Year and Lunar New Year, practice phrases, or couplets like the ones at the top of this page are created. They are considered a poetic gift and reminder to practice mindfulness.  

Rather than say New Year, New Me, I propose that we say New Year, Slightly Better Me. Looking deeply we know that this thing we call “me” is a product of many different influences and conditions. While it is impermanent, it is not likely to change completely overnight. Having a mindfulness practice and being part of a supportive community are great conditions for happiness. In the New Year we can build on this.

In pausing together at this beginning of the year we can come home to our heart to ask what do I really want for myself this year. More importantly, how do I want to feel this year. New year, New me. Our mindfulness practice helps us with New Year, New Me.

The other verse of the couplet is Joy Within, Joy All Around. Continuing with the inquiry on how you want to feel, you can inquire as to what brings you joy? Knowing what brings joy we can choose to water those seeds of joy in us more often this year.

The Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi taught about beginner's mind. He said:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

When we have a beginners mind there is a freshness in practice. We can see the world with an attitude of curiosity from the lens of not knowing. With the beginner's mind we can begin to see the Joy all Around. Mindfulness sees the pull of the old habits and allows us to side step and move in a different direction.  That direction is the direction of beginner's mind, the direction

of realizing all of the conditions we already have for happiness and joy.

I look forward to beginning the New Year together and contemplating and discussing our conditions for happiness and the joy within us and all around.