The transition between one year and the next is a powerful time to let go of old habits and make a fresh start.
I always have fun coming up with a catchy slogan to jump start the New Year. In that spirit, I offer “A Clear Screen in 2014.”
For me, there are two meanings to this slogan, one very obvious and the other more subtle:
1) Letting go of old energies and habits which no longer serve us
2) Realizing yourself as that which is unchanging
Take some time to review the year of 2013. Look to see if you’re still upset with or judging anyone in your life for something they did or said during the past year. If you find that you are, try this simple process
a) Picture the person you are upset with. Think about some of the things he said or did that hurt you. Feel the emotions that are evoked. Find where the emotions are most strongly present in your body right now. Bring your focus to that spot and notice both the physical sensations and the feelings that are present. Go as deeply into the feelings as you can.
b) Picture the person as a newborn baby. Look at the expression on his or her face. Deeply feel his or her innocence. Allow your heart to open to this beautiful, innocent being.
c) Go back to seeing the person as they are today. Picture them doing or saying things that caused you pain. Again, be with what feelings are evoked in your body.
d) Continue to go back and forth until you deeply feel this person’s innocence when you picture what he or she did that upset you.
Do this process for everyone you need to forgive. Then, do it for self-forgiveness if there’s anything you’re judging yourself for.
Once you’ve cleared your screen of resentments and judgments, this is a good time to take a fresh look at who you truly are.
The Indian master, Papji, said “Events come and go in the movie of your life. You are the screen. If you identify yourself with the Immaculate, Unchanging Eternal screen,, you will not suffer through the changing scenes in your life, but enjoy all of it.”
How do we realize ourselves as the clean screen on which all the changes happen? Papaji, and his teacher, the great sage, Ramana Maharshi, recommended self-inquiry as the most direct approach. Ask a question such as “Who am I?” or “Who’s aware this thought?” and look deeply in your heart for the answer. The key is not to settle for a conceptual answer from your mind, but to feel the answer in the silence of your hear.
Here’s a simple method integrating gratitude and self-inquiry which works well for me.
a) Put your attention on your breath, without trying to control it. Simply receive the gift of life and give thanks
b) Ask “Where is the one I’m grateful to?” Look and feel into your heart for the answer
c) Then ask “Where is the grateful one?” Again find the answer in your heart.
We are not prisoners of our past, locked into endlessly playing out the same old patterns. Through true forgiveness, we can free ourselves of resentments and judgments of ourselves and others. Then, we’re ready, we can let go of our identity with the separate, struggling small self and realize ourselves more deeply as the one unchanging Self, the screen on which the play of life unfolds.