“If I lose my direction, I have to look to the north star, and I go to the North. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
How many times have we obsessed about an outcome, only to find that the value lay in the journey towards it? Consider your favorite moments this past holiday season. The carefully planned meals and celebrations have long been over and enjoyed, yet sorting through family recipes and cooking together with loved ones will remain a favorite holiday memory.
As we press on with resolutions, intentions, planning and projects, let’s keep this knowledge in mind and accept what arises with compassion. A balance of determination and acceptance is necessary for fulfillment, just as the white and black of a yin-yang comprise a full circle. Goals point us in the right direction, acceptance allows us to enjoy each step of the way. When we do this, the path becomes much smoother. Further, we don’t really know whether the detour is bad or good until later on.
Uncertainty of the future can be scary. This fear is what throws us in to extremes of over-planning or apathy. When we are firmly grounded in the present moment, we know that the future is yet to come. The only way we can affect change is here in the present. When we take care of the present moment, we are already taking care of the future as the future is also made of the past.
This doesn’t mean goals are useless. In fact, when we are fully present to see all things more clearly, effective planning becomes much easier. We realize that all our conditions for happiness already exist and our frenetic dependence on future fulfillment melts away. We also learn from the past as to what is helps us and what will be detrimental to our future. This frees us to make thoughtful plans for the future, informed by true knowledge from the past.
When frustration arises about enacting your resolutions and intentions, try this brief meditation. Repeat it to yourself silently and breathe – until your shoulders and gut release their tension and your mind releases expectations.
Breathing in, I see that all I need to be happy exists in this moment.
Breathing out, I accept my journey, with compassion and ease.