New Year, New You?

Steve Maraboli said, “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” Colin Mason shares how new year resolutions can add another layer of control and worry in our lives. Here he explores the power of easing that grip.
Colin Mason is a meditation teacher on Insight Timer.
Colin Mason is a meditation teacher on Insight Timer.

It is common practice all over the world to use the new year as a time to make a resolution. Usually, this resolution is indicating our resolve to change ourselves, or something for the better. Don’t get me wrong! Any positive change in one’s life is a good thing, a great thing! If you resolve to start a new workout routine or to eat healthier, I would challenge anyone (extenuating circumstances excluded of course) to show me how that is bad. Or perhaps you resolve to be a better parent or a more patient partner; again, I would challenge anyone to explain to me why that is a bad thing. But, I wonder if, much of the time perhaps, we go about this in the wrong way.

In past years I have found myself making resolutions, and as a result, I apply another layer onto my already crowded and busy life. The question then becomes: does this resolution help? Does it have the intended effect, or does it cause other things to go off the rails, fall off the radar, etc? In a life and world where we try to apply so much control to every situation, I would offer that more often than not, a resolution tends to have the opposite effect.

What if there was a way that we could accomplish that which we set out to do in a more passive way?

For the past few years, while I have been on my journey of transformation, I have not worried about making a New Year’s resolution. I felt that the growth that I was undertaking was enough and was certainly more holistic than what would likely be a temporary push to be better in some specific way. And then more recently, I have been having trouble getting into a deep meditative state, and this has caused me to do some exploration and contemplation, trying to figure out if it was just part of the process, or if something in my life had changed and caused this sudden shift for me.

What I discovered was that the events of the past fall had been intense enough for me that I had begun to exert a much greater deal of control on all aspects of my life; it was this that had bled over into my practice. Just this morning, with my mind centred on loosening my grip on the process during my practice, it all came rushing back: the calm, the peace, the bliss, the joy. I had found it again, and not through a greater level of control, or a resolution to change something. It was, in fact, the exact opposite that allowed me to come back to my true centre; I let it all go, and therein again, I found everything.

We often try to apply bandages to our lives, trying to fix them by applying more control, and this is often very prominent during the time of the new year. My question to you is, is that really necessary? Is more control the answer? In our world of constantly being told what to do and when to do it, I would offer that this is almost definitely not the answer. The answer lies in peeling away the layers of control we and others place on ourselves.

At first, if nothing else, try it for the duration of your practice today; try peeling back a layer of control and see what happens when you do. Is it your mind running amuck? Or is it inherent freedom, the likes of which you have maybe never known?

When we try to control things, especially the processes in our mind, we often just make things more conflicted, and more active. By loosening our grip, we can start to realize the freedom that comes with a lack of control. If we are not spending so much time worrying about controlling every little facet of our lives, we become free to be the observer of our lives and all things. And if we pause for a moment to think about the cosmic scale of coincidences, large and small, that lead to this present moment and our place in it, we can begin to realize the egotism that is involved with this level of control.

Whether you are practicing using one of my simple breath counting practices, or your practice leads you elsewhere, I would challenge you this new year to not set another level of control on your life. Instead, do the exact opposite and release control, even just for a moment or two, and see what happens. Maybe instead of “New Year, new you” it becomes, “New Year, true you.”

Meditation. Free.