December 30, 2014

10 Things to Help Us Grow into the New Year.

Courtesy of the author (Kristen Sylvester)

When I was growing up, I always thought the way we accumulated knowledge was like brick being stacked upon brick.

Clear lines of demarcation.

Different levels of achievement.

Now, in contrast to that, I have come to believe that the way we accumulate knowledge is very different. That each lesson we learn morphs into another to make up our own individual experience.

The lines between each is blurred. They are a part of us.

In honor of the Winter Solstice and the welcoming of this new year, I have considered 10 methods of sitting with life’s rhythm through all of its comfort and discomfort, agreeableness and disagreeableness.

Here are 10 things that can help us grow into the New Year:

1. We can’t take the suffering from another man.

As sensitive, empathetic human beings, we do not like to see somebody else suffering, especially when it is somebody we deeply love and care for.

But there is a difference between being there for somebody (comfort) and wanting to take their suffering away (control).

When we have certain ideas of how someone else should be operating in the world, we are building up unreasonable expectations and our sympathy becomes less about them and more about ourselves.

2. Money is not actual wealth.

Surprising, right?

But money is a social convention. Money is not the most interesting thing we can bring to the table.

We are not our jobs.

More interesting is what inspires us, what lights us up and enjoying our own company when we are alone.

3. Goodbyes are for those who love with their eyes (Rumi).

It is so hard to say goodbye to those we love.

Let’s take a moment for that one to breathe.

It becomes easier once we can see that the love we have is always there inside.

4. We all share the most basic things in common: we are born, we die and we all seek happiness.

Religion. Race. Class. Hair Color. Height. Weight.

Sure, if we look closely, we will see individual differences between human beings, but these are all distinctions for the mind.

Aside from that, we all share the most basic things in common.

5. Forgiveness isn’t actually something we do for another person. It is something we give to ourselves.

We are funny beings.

We are reluctant and resistant to forgive someone who hurts us because we think,

“This person hurt me. Why should I give them anything?”

But forgiveness actually has little (or nothing) to do with the other person. It is a pertinent thing that we have to offer ourselves in order to heal.

6. Use our experience as a right of passage rather than a badge of honor.

Our more negative experiences—especially situations we experience as trauma—often harden us and we begin to walk around with our guard up and this sense of pride that says,

“Yeah, I survived that.”

This way of viewing our experience actually works to keep us stuck in it.

In order to get unstuck, we have to see that not only did we “survive” a thing, but we also transcended it. That is the right of passage; the only way to move forward.

7. Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.

“Whatever arises is the fresh.” ~ Pema Chodron

When we are angry/anxious/afraid/lonely/depressed/etc., we can use it as an opportunity to wake up.

We can sit with it no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Even if our meditation seems to be going horribly, that is just the “housecleaning.”

The best measure of how our meditation is going is how we feel afterwards. Lean into it.

8. Memories are distorted.

Because memories are present traces of past experiences, they are inherently distorted.

When they come up, we think we are experiencing the thing itself in its truest form. But it is equivalent to witnessing a bird’s footprints on a beach. In that instance, we are not actually experiencing the bird walking.  We are experiencing a present trace of a past experience.

Our memories don’t have to control us.

9. For the things we have no power to change through our will alone, surrender.

There is a distinction between willpower and surrendering.

Willpower is necessary to help us effectively make decisions and plans. But if there is something we are consistently stuck on, we can think to ourselves,

“Is this something I can change with my will alone?”

And if not, perhaps the only solution is to surrender. Whatever happens is the fresh, right?

10. Trust ourselves.

Sometimes, we are so ugly to ourselves.

We need to have more Faith with a capital “F.”


We are our own individuals, and that is beautiful. Let’s do it like we mean it.


Happy Solstice! The light is coming!


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Author: Kristen Sylvester

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith / Editor:Renee Picard 

Photo: Courtesy of the Author.

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