December 22, 2009

A Happy New Year Within Reach

Dear Friends,

In honor of this holiday season, I want to share with you some words that touched me today from, of all things, a website advertising a recovery event in the UK where Byron Katie will be the keynote speaker.

Regarding breaking free from addictions, the author of the piece, George Williams, says:

"People try many things to fill that empty space in their lives, whether they are searching for happiness or a way to deal with pressures and disappointments....Sometimes we have to look back to move forward. Learn from our mistakes or shortfalls. For those taking those first steps, don’t be afraid, you have all the resources within.

"Imagine having the courage and confidence to follow your instincts and make positive decisions about how you want to live your life."

As I read this I was reminded of the following words from the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous, a great source of wisdom for coping with all of the addictions of being human:

"When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment."

We humans tend towards all sorts of addictions—whether to substances, behaviors, or outdated modes of thinking—in an effort to feel better about ourselves and our lives. We want people to change, to love us, to appreciate us, so that we can be happy. "Skip the middleman," Byron Katie has said, "and be happy now." That is the only thing that has ever worked, and there is no way to do that on demand. We can't enforce serenity; we all would if we could. It takes self-understanding, present-moment awareness and great willingness.

Serenity is an inside job. Self-inquiry—whether you practice the written four-questions-and-a-turnaround kind that we "Workies" prefer, or you sit in the mystery of "Who am I?", or you take fearless moral inventory and make your amends-is the best way I know of to bring about the serenity that we all desire and deserve. We are living in interesting times; what is happening on the outside feels challenging and sometimes hopeless—from rampant unemployment to global warming. Some of us have experienced eroding relationships, deaths in the family, the death of our dreams. We can work to bring about positive change in the world, to better ourselves and our situations...but how are we doing in the meantime? Addictive highs always wear off and we become consumed by seeking more escapes when the ones we've tried cease to work. Trying to please others, change them, even "forgive" them may not result in lasting serenity.

In my experience, peace can only be found by meeting the stressed-out mind with a kind mind, an understanding mind; a mind at rest. In this way, instead of running away from what we fear, we move towards what we love and cherish. I invite us all to give ourselves this kindness in the New Year.

May all of your days be holidays and all of your years be happy, new ones.

With love,

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