By Jonathan Barbieri //
Each year we usually have some positive experiences and some negative. By the end of the year there is a quality of shifting – that the energy of the previous year has come to a culmination; it could feel charged or stale and often is somewhere in-between.
There is a reason that the New Year’s celebration is several thousands of years old. It has always been a time of renewal – fresh beginnings throughout the world. A time of reflection on our aspirations and human capability.
Whether we feel confident about going forward or uncertain the ground is ripe, we human beings have enormously rich qualities. We have intelligence, kindness, caring and an inner strength. These innate qualities are the foundation for the New Year as well as our life journey.
Each year at Shambhala Mountain Center, people gather for a New Year’s retreat called Take a Leap. Being at a special place, during a poignant time together with special people, is a great environment to nourish our rich and positive qualities. It is the opportune time to refresh our outlook of ourselves and what we wish to bring out in the coming year and what is healthy to leave behind.
Through mindfulness/awareness meditation, contemplation and discussion we can recognize our strengths and those habitual patterns that get in the way of opening ourselves to the potential of our humanity and life.
In the course of our time together we let go of the myth that we can change habitual behavior and habits instantaneously. We let go of wishful thinking and acknowledge fear when we experience it. In this way we are real about who we are and we don’t have to be afraid of ourselves or of the world. In this atmosphere the possibility of opening and seeing more clearly can emerge. By contemplating those moments and people in our lives, that are truly important, we can be more present. We can experience a genuine quality of life.
Whether you are at Shambhala Mountain Center, or not, you can vow to do these two things as you enter 2019:
- Reflect and look at those qualities which are healthy and that we will cultivate, nourish and strengthen.
- Recognize and acknowledge, without being negative, those activities and habits which we do that are unhealthy to our personal well being.
When we combine the two we have something very powerful, workable, and good. We are able to do this through the clarity we gain from meditation in realizing our positive qualities and strengths and to see that our habits, while strong, are not solid rocks.
A final note for those considering joining this year’s retreat: We will be enjoying an absolutely fabulous 3-course New Years dinner. I hope to see you soon.
About the Author
Shastri Jonathan Barbieri is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Lineage who has taught Buddhist and Shambhala trainings extensively throughout North America for over 30 years. Jon has been engaged in several livelihood pursuits including consulting with cities and counties on workforce development, creating contemplative co-housing communities, and, most recently, teaching Mindfulness programs to public agencies and businesses. He was formerly the Executive Director of Shambhala Mountain Center.
Featured image by Ravi Sharma