The cold, gray days of January in Iowa are always challenging for me. It sometimes feels impossible to practice contentment, keep my heart open, and my attitude positive. Yet the hum of dissatisfaction certainly distracts me from accepting the reality of my life and creates distance from the present moment, which right now happens to be January.
Ben and Jerry’s on the couch and long lazy nights consuming reruns of Lost feels mighty appealing to me, yet I recognize it as my way to numb out the discontent. And what I’ve learned is that we can’t numb out the hard, challenging, or boring moments of life and still expect to feel the full range of good. There is no such thing as selective numbing. By choosing to not feel the contracted days of January, I also might be cutting off my ability to feel the really expansive good stuff down the line.
So, I keep practicing and trying to feel it all without labeling periods of my life as “bad” (i.e., January) and other times as “good”. It’s all just life. Pema Chodron in her book “How To Meditate” recently spoke to me when she posed the question “What is the purpose of spiritual practice”? Why do we keep returning to our mat, or keep waking up early to meditate, or keep reading the spiritual texts? Pema writes that the ultimate reason we practice is to become more awake to our lives, and to become completely loving people. And this is what the world most needs – those who are awake, open hearted, and loving. Especially in January….