What we really need to do, to make positive and lasting change in our lives is to rip and tear at the foundation of bad habits, we must remove some significant part of our "selves" to make room for the new beginning. In very real ways, the closing of a chapter is upon us. Our attachment to the way things were is the only thing that is holding us back from achieving great things.
When we embark on a restoration project, we often have to clear out plant life that would out compete the trees that we plant. Changing our lives is much the same. If we have entanglements that absorb all the fresh ideas and good habits that we are trying to establish, the new seedlings that we plant will come to naught. If we refuse to clear out the unproductive activities that we currently distract ourselves with, there will be no time for that exercise program, or the weight loss program that we commit to.
The rites and rituals of the season have developed over long periods of time to help us give away things that are holding us back as surely as they are meant to re-establish relationships with the important parts of the world that surrounds us. In the process of growing, first we must break through the outer shell that we have developed to protect us. This time of the year, the Earth falls into a type of suspended animation. The life which thrives upon the surface takes a rest, and we need to take heed of that, resting ourselves. Over the first half of my adult life, I often found myself busier at this time of year than nearly any other. Running and rushing, trying to meet more than my fair share of obligations. Inevitably, this would lead to illness early in the new year.
One resolution that helped to avoid both the hectic pre-holiday rush and the aftermath of recovery that my body inevitably had to go through, was to look upon the dark days of winter as a gift rather than an obligation. Without a hearth, it can be a bit difficult to find a place to share stories and gather during the long winter nights, but we have had to make due. Stories can still be shared and gifts can still be exchanged, but rather than trying to make everything perfect, just taking time to appreciate one another has become a much more important part of the season.
Understanding the need to clear out things before amassing new ones has both prepared the ground for new growth and opened up possibility that I could not have fathomed if I had remained locked in to the belief that this is the season that requires perfection. One of my favorite personal ECO-Tours, taken time and time again is to journey in, to the heart of my ideas. finding out where they have come from and why I might feel the pressure to do things that I know to be either not helpful or downright harmful has led me to come to terms with many of my mal-adaptive behaviors. Like weeding the ground and tilling soil for new plantings, this mental cultivation has led to both startling discoveries about myself and the creation of a rich medium in which to plant the seeds of better behavior that can lead to growth.
Finding the right places to cultivate, the best seeds to plant in the fresh ground and caring for our new selves in ways that foster growth rather than hinder it is a lifelong process. Just because we put so much pressure on ourselves at this time of year does not mean that this is the only time that we need to consider these important parts of our lives, but perhaps we can start by establishing a new relationship with the person we hope to become. with a bit of luck, perhaps, we can come to terms with the fact that much of what we have become comfortable with is taking us down a very limiting path. Holding on to our old pain, the myriad abuses and neglect that can help define who we are limits our development as surely as night follows the day. Releasing both ourselves and those who have caused our pain from these limitations sounds difficult, but for those who have experienced true forgiveness, the feeling is like opening your heart. Just as we root up weeds and shoots from earth that we seek to plant in, loosening the entanglements of our heart is an essential part of becoming new people.
For some reason, humans seem prone to forgetting the eternal truths. Perhaps that is why so many religious teachings say the same things. I'm sure that is the reason for most folk tales. Even those of us on a good path can use a bit of cultivation from time to time. Take time to look long and deeply into the world that surrounds you. Both the external world of nature, or concrete jungle, whichever you live within and the internal world of emotions and ideas. find the place from which the limitations spring and root them out. only then will your seeds of change be able to take root.