My New Year’s Resolution

I’ve been having a tough time this past week. Worrying about omicron has been part of it, but there’s been more. Not much joy, and strong sadness and despair. I was face-to-face with my biggest samskara1 – the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. That no matter what I do, I’m screwed! When combined with the power of my emotions, these thoughts have at times been overwhelming.

While this has been really difficult, it’s also opened my eyes.

It’s been awful and uncomfortable and unwanted. But I’ve used it to grow. When my mindfulness has been strong, I’ve been able to observe my experience from the seat of awareness and just relax. I’ve seen my personal mind2 clearly, and recognized just how powerfully hurtful the “voice in my head” can be.

One thing all this makes clear is that what my personal mind says really is garbage!

I’ve had a lot of happiness and good fortune in my life. Many people like me. Some even love me. Objectively, I have a good life. Clearly these thoughts of being screwed no matter what I do are garbage. Not only are they garbage. They have the ability to trigger my deepest suffering.

It’s the New Year. For me, it is a time to look back and to look forward. To take stock, to see where I’ve gone, and to strengthen my intention to go in a good direction. No listening to harsh judgements, but rather looking back with kindness and self compassion, letting myself feel any pain that arises, and embrace it in awareness, as a mother holds her crying child.

I’m lucky that my year has been quite good – much joy and contentment, especially after I was vaccinated and felt safe enough to see my friends in person. But since omicron has come on the scene, a lot of fear and anxiety have arisen, accompanied by the feeling that my chest is in a vice. I see that my personal mind wants to escape, and a big part of that is spiritual escape, having that non-dual experience to liberate me from this body and mind.

I’m not sure, but I think the despair has arisen because my personal mind says that I’ll never be able to do that, because I just don’t trust the universe, or perhaps I don’t believe I have what it takes. Which, of course, is what my personal mind has been telling me lately.

So starting now, I’m taking a new approach. Forget non-dual, no self, enlightenment. Forget getting anywhere. Just be here now, and plant the seeds of love and happiness. Drop the goal of escaping my suffering, and just work with where I’m at.

As for my new year’s resolution, I ask myself “what change can I make that is manageable, measurable, and that will help me go in a good direction?”

No matter what particular resolution I choose, it’s all about taming my personal mind with my higher mind, my higher intentions.

My highest intention, my “pole star” as Mickey Singer says, is to love everyone and everything. I may never reach that goal, but, like the north star, it is my guide. I know that to go in that direction means taming my personal mind. And that takes discipline, to not give in when my personal mind tells me to do something against my highest intention. Mickey eloquently explains why discipline is required in his talk “Cultivating the discipline to free yourself.

What it boils down to is that as long as your personal mind is running the show, you are channeling your life force in unhelpful ways. Taming your personal mind doesn’t mean stopping it. It means having the clarity not to listen to it, not letting fear and desire drag you around and prevent you from taking good care of yourself and others.

When I lived at Plum Village, we ate most of our meals in silence, doing eating meditation, being present with our food. It wasn’t oppressive. It was great! I could really enjoy every bite and allow my mind to settle. Here in Toronto, I find it next to impossible to eat alone without watching Netflix or YouTube or reading the news. Many years ago, my mentor suggested eating meditation, but I could never do it. My personal mind is so strong!

And so my new year’s resolution is to do eating meditation at least one meal a day, for the entire year.

I know this will be difficult, and so I must keep reminding myself – I want to feel love for everyone and everything. That is my top priority, more important than money, relationships, work, or even my health. It is my pole star. I know doing eating meditation when my personal mind wants to watch TV will help get me there, because it will help tame the personal mind. (Btw, it’s only my personal mind that wants to watch TV.)

Please wish me luck!

And good luck to you in 2022. May it be a year filled with joy, peace and love, and may you successfully take steps to tame your personal mind.


(1) A samskara is a blockage, an internal knot or pattern of mind that is stored inside us and which can trigger reactivity and negativity.
(2) The personal mind is our reactive mind, the “voice in your head”, which comes from all the aversion and attachments we’ve stored as our preferences, beliefs, judgements, and all self-referential thinking.