2022 has begun. Readers may entertain thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions.
We embark upon a resolution, big or small, to bring about a change in our life, often centred around renunciation, reduction or giving up certain kinds of behaviour or patterns.
Spiritual/Buddhist traditions give much emphasis to the engagement in expressions of renunciation though the concept gets little use in contemporary Western spirituality. Secular culture leaves the language of renunciation to the monastics and has replaced it with letting go. That’s unfortunate.
Letting go often means letting go of a problem, an unhealthy view about ourselves or others so we can carry on as before without it. This has a real value while renunciation has the potential to free up the mind without needing to resolve an issue.
There is an element of sacrifice with renunciation to release realisations and vision.
Renunciation expands beyond such important expressions of letting go since it includes the unproblematic. As a spiritual practice, renunciation also refers to finding greater inner space for fresh insights in an expansive range of issues. What we renounce may not cause any problems. Yet we still renounce…
During my years of practice as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and India (1970-1976), I enjoyed the challenge of acts of renunciation/letting go to explore the unseen benefits. In modest ways, I still enjoy the challenge of working with the resistance to making changes following the resolution.
Mindfulness, wise endeavour and insights provide the key to the power of resolutions, not reliance on will power.
Readers will have made many changes over the years. Some of the resolutions you have carried out were much bigger than anything listed below. All credit to you. You can draw upon your strong determinations from the past to initiate new ones to expand consciousness.
We regularly engage in resolutions, renounce, let go and discard a range of accumulations. Let us make it a conscious and ongoing daily practice for peace of mind, well-being and wise living.
We develop and exercise a quiet, power of mind. I have added a comment in places. Some of the resolutions listed below were easy, effortless while others required a steady commitment. I prefer long term rather than never again.
Here are 30 of my New Year Resolutions and Other Times over the Years
These resolutions were made during the last three decades. You could write your own list to give backbone to your next resolution.
In alphabetical order…
- 12 hours daily without eating (sustained for 12 years). I would wait 12 hours before eating after the last bite of the day. A snack at midnight meant next bite at midday. As monks, we finished our last bite before 12.17 pm (time of the midday sun and took our next bite at 7.30 am or later for break-fast – about 19 hours later. A little hardship at first and then easy.
- Increase blogs from one per week to two or three (long term)
- Maximum of 12 meals a year in restaurants (long term)
- Minimal use of mobile phone, such as checking for messages once or twice a day, not scrolling down Facebook pages etc.
- No buying furniture (one year)
- No buying music CDs (one year)
- No buying novels (one year) and donating lots of books to local charity shops.
- No car (long term). Decision made at very start of new millennium. I had a heavy carbon footprint with air flights to four continents per year.
- No credit card. One debit card. (long term)
- No dairy products, except milk for cuppa. (long term)
- No flying for a holiday (long term)
- No heating temperature at home above 20 degrees (long term). To conserve gas/energy.
- No microwave (long term)
- No more buying Buddha images for home (long term). Most rooms in the house have a Buddha image (15-30 cm).
- No more flights to India, Israel/Palestine and Australia (long term)
- No more flights to North America (long term)
- No more long-distance relationships (long term)
- No more teaching outside Germany in Europe (long term)
- No new clothes (one year). I went away to teach and forgot spare socks. Out of compassion, I bought some socks.
- No overnight visitors (long term). Home had become like a bed and breakfast with people I knew worldwide visiting Totnes, en route to Gaia House, finishing their retreat or en route to Cornwall. Replaced one-to-three-night stays with meetings for coffee.
- No more purchase of plastic bags while shopping (long term) and buying only loose fruit and veg in the local market instead of wrapped up in plastic.
- No taxi to and from railway station to home (long term). Unless raining. This is a wet and windy island in case you didn’t know. And successive governments to match the weather.
- No writing a book (one year).
- Only watching nourishing and thoughtful TV and Netflix.
- Reduce sugar, salt and fat in food.
- To buy rarely chocolate and biscuits.
- To complete Memoir (TEN YEARS AND TEN DAYS). 520 pages (one year)
- To feed the birds every morning in the back garden (long term).
- To read cover to cover NEW GUIDE TO THE TRIPITIKA. Large format. 440 pages. By Mathew Meghaprasara (one year). Resolution for 2022
- Weight to remain between 67-70 kilos (147-154 pounds; 10 stone,7 pound to 11 stone – long term). I appreciate being in this weight range. Sometimes I eat a little more or a little less to keep in the guideline. I check scales at home every few weeks. I hear from friends time to time. “Christopher, you’ve lost weight.” Barely. Weight has probably stayed in this zone for 40 years. I prefer numbers on scale to perception of concerned friends. Besides, I can keep wearing the same clothes.
- If you make a resolution start working with it in some way as immediately as possible.
- If you tell yourself, you will start next week or next month or after your birthday, it is usually a signal of absence of commitment.
- Share your resolution(s) with friends, family or both.
- Ask a close friend to check in with you time to time about your resolution.
- Keep a journal.
- Set a time limit or a long-term view.
- Remember the satisfaction and joy in developing your resolution rather than staying stuck in an old pattern.
Taken in 2020, photo shows clear out and sort out of stuff in garden shed at home. I must point out the stuff does not include the chair with the zafu (meditation cushion) on the seat in the corner of the photo!