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January 5, 2023

Burn it Down, then Wait: a Mantra for the New Year.

“Burn it.”

I watched on WhatsApp as my husband’s face cringed at the thought.

“You have to burn it.”

He began to protest, so I said it a third time.

“I know it’s the Medicine Buddha and you still have to burn it.”

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been climbing big mountains in Ecuador. Meanwhile, my husband has been opening and moving old boxes that have been in storage from our previous home, his home of 20-plus years. The home where he raised his children. A home that also experienced a big flood less than a decade ago.

And where there is water, there is mold.

The Medicine Buddha blanket had been packed away for a few years and sadly had succumbed to a pervasive mold that has a particularly stubborn smell. The truth was, it was time for my husband to let it go. The other truth is that letting go is easy on paper but harder in practice.

I could see the many years of raising a family and the milestones of life were wrapped up in this blanket for him. It was more than the Medicine Buddha blanket—it was his home.

The end of a calendar year beckons us to reflect on the past. It is a wonderful time to let go; it’s also a great time to pick up something new and healthier. However, this time is also marred by a modern-day problem of skipping through the tough bits of the process.

The next day, with the new year ahead, so many of us jump into what’s next, skipping what I think is the most unique space we occupy as human beings: the liminal space of “not yet.”

How do we answer the invitation of liminal space, mindfully? Here are three ways to tap into the energetic space of “not yet”:

1. Use our breath. When I guide meditations on Mind Oasis, we spend a lot of time noticing the cycle of breath—there is an inhale, a little pause at the top, an exhale, and the pregnant pause at the bottom before the next inhalation. This pregnant pause is where the juice is at and it teaches us to stay with the “not yet” in a potent way.

2. Notice our somatic experience. Earlier in the day, before speaking to my husband, I was sitting in a sauna feeling a small heartbreak. I could feel the grief in my heart. I simply felt it fully as a physical sensation in my body. There was no pushing away or wishing for ease. I simply sat with a tender, gently broken heart. I sat with the physical ache.

3. Break the day-to-day, overly busy habit. Start to shed that which doesn’t serve you in order to have the space to process your life. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche warned us against the “laziness of being preoccupied.” In order to make space for what’s next, we need to clear the field for some daydreaming.

Last year, I decided that being gentle with ourselves was terrible advice. For this new year, I’ll be burning the old, but instead of rushing ahead to intentions, resolutions, and goals, I will be holding out awhile in the liminal space of “not yet” until I am damn good and ready for what’s next.

Join me?

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