We’ve all done it! Gotten through the holidays, and hopefully enjoyed them. And with the New Year, we’ve celebrated life, being alive, and maybe even made some resolutions.
For me, I resolved in this new year, to love people more - to try to accept everyone just for who they are, flawed human beings, and have more compassion for everyone caught in a world filled with anger, hatred and strife. For actually, we’re all just trying to find some happiness, some peace of mind, for ourselves, for our families, in these very trying times. My resolution to love more fully and deeply includes attempting to forgive those who have unintentionally and even intentionally hurt me, even including family members, close and further away in the mix. Acceptance, compassion, love and forgiveness comprise the art of living - giving and forgiving. These are easy words to say and often times very difficult to do, especially consistently. The intention is there, the action may or may not be. It’s all very scary really. I have already failed many more times than I have so far succeeded this year, and it’s barely the third week of 2019.
And the blues of failure, disappointment and loss have already set in. Tommy, my 83 year old barber in Westport, one of the most loving people I have ever met, has died, moved on to another dimension of life. I already miss him. When I need a haircut in a couple of weeks, I think I’ll shave my head instead. Plus, it will at least make my dermatologist happy for a moment as he examines me.
Along with the more normally present post-holiday blues, is there a way through this grief, this depression, the anxiety, in the attempt to really love? So what does it take?
I take a deep breath. I hold it equally as long as I breathed it in. Then I let it out equally as long. I wait equally as long before I take another deep breath. Nothing else matters except the breath. I let go of all else in my mind that is going on, following only the breath. I let all my emotions dissolve in the concentration on my breath. Nothing else matters but the breath. And then I start the whole process over again. Ultimately it leads to letting go of my opinions, my wants, my longings, the things of life I identify with, yet are not really who I am. And the ultimate question arises in me - Who am I?
In the meantime, we can feel more centered than before following the breath. We can feel more energy, more enthusiasm and maybe we can find a little more determination to follow our New Year’s resolutions if we chose to set them. Perhaps the post New Year’s blues and the sadness of the long winter ahead will leave us for greater peace of mind, and will lead to a more open heart.
Happy New Year to All!
Dr. Al Levy