The Eyes Have It
2020 is a year of optimizing your vision.
We all want a better life. Encouraging ourselves to a healthy lifestyle as much as developing better ways to enjoy our precious time is a really good start. These steps enhance our joys, our sense of accomplishment, and heighten our self-worth.
There are so many wonderful life goals we can work on to bring joy and a better coherence to our sense of well-being. Reducing our social media intake already reduces a lot of anxiety we didn’t even know we had. Making sure we get better sleep in the year increases our productivity and improves our mental state, and so does staying active and creative. To no surprise, gyms are highest in new membership and dietary books are highest off the bookshelves at this time of year given “new” resolutions we wish to adhere.
For some of us, a new slate goes skin deeper and it is about agreeing to be honest to one’s shortcomings for the year — (one year my resolution was never to lose my patience or cool with any utility company or airline; two years later I succeeded) — or it may be agreeing to be more present to the people we love. And yet somehow, we tend to skip over and overlook the abiding merit of one essential piece: a loving calm to have get there.
Calm— that is to say, our mental fitness— is paramount to our sense of a true well-being, or our health and happiness. That is why cultivating a lifestyle practice that includes the regimen of a peace of mind, a broad mindset and a loving disposition is as wise, if not more vitally wise— because these ingredients all contribute to a better life for one’s self and the people we encounter. Our relationships and our everyday connections enjoy more grace and ease when our own hearts have become freer. Enhancing calm is achieved by a conscientious practice of watching, and taking notice.
Becoming freer in this way is hard work and it is also a choice, so something we really do have amply in our command. When we become more understanding and loving to ourselves and gentler to our own judgments, we loosen the reins of our perfection and our imperfections overall. When we soften what is and what can be, we also begin to see our weaknesses and our human vulnerabilities as tools to a broader strength. Should we devotedly commit to teaching our minds and our hearts to move past our attachments of how things must be at a certain time and in a certain space, we can extend our compassion to others and see the beauty of allowing our perception of people and things to not be so fixed. Our speech more often becomes wiser and our actions more gentle and kind.
So what intrapersonal habit or behaviour are you and I ready to let go of from the last year (or years) that most gets in our way? And how can we replace what we’d like to have more happily realized into this new decade with solid and long-lasting intention?
The human body is made up of 98% water. A dam stays dammed but a moving river meanders and adapts. Which energy would you like to be and bring to your day? Calm, you see, empowers flow. Calm is about being open, unfettered and wide. It has an energy of forgiveness and acceptance rooted into its force. After all, my wish, as yours, cannot control the rolling tide of outside events; yet, in my wish, I can control virtues of myself I’d like to master, and be a good example. In this way, I already help the foundational mechanism of love be a more powerful agency than hate.
A calm and peaceful mindset conditions our bodies to metabolize our day better, too. We have more energy to do things more efficiently when we are not anxious, not rushed or somewhere in ourselves not internally harried. If anything, the task is a lot more enjoyable and our brains receive more by way of a perceptual clarity and pleasantness. More strategies also become evident to us to better help our way.
When we practice a calm, we also boost the immunity potential of our bodies. We literally insulate the protective covers of our cells better in a way that the telomeres, or the compound structure at the end of each chromosome within each cell, do not fray or shorten prematurely. Calm literally helps structure in the cell to not degenerate or age as quickly. We need qualify that this must be a loving calm to better defeat and reverse the anxieties we may be feeling. So yes, calm is a wise daily diet to incorporate. It’s actually the key. It’s a way of being extra kind to your body as well as being extra kind to those who love and wish to enjoy you, too.
We lose precious fuel when we are quick to anger and we as much lose precious fuel inwardly when we may be outwardly calm but our thoughts and expectation continue to have us harry. A mental fitness in calm, however, counters life’s stresses and any distress.
Sure, it is inescapable that we will experience the emotions of happiness and joy, sadness and grief, frustration, disappointment and anger, fear, which is a form of anxiety, and surprise along our way. If you really think about it, we experience many little births and many little deaths around all these emotions each and every day. And yet, when we condition ourselves to work on a calm and loving mindset, the heightened or routinized nature of such emotions or responses have less ability to take over our lives. We also can see more appreciation in the more difficult moments when we do. A sense of blessing always diminishes any hurt.
Seen in this way, each emotion we experience becomes an invaluable teacher to a higher love. When we take notice of it, these challenges— our personal stories and the news stories tell us that there is much to go around— we become informed of areas in which we can even become more calm, more loving, to what is at hand. So can we instead honour such moments of “emotion” in challenge and difficulty as gifts to reconnect to our moral and inner compass, and to do better by it? Imagine were we all to agree to do the work to welcome such moments as catalyst to letting go of what removes us from what we are put here to do: Love.
It is a New Year. Many of us have set resolutions. Make yours kind. Aspire well. 2020 begins a decade of new vision. Be visionary. Be humble in what you choose to succeed at and be humble to what you choose to let go. I would as much ask that we each attach a calm, loving mindset to whatever we are resolved to succeed at and I would ask that we focus on our intention and our character to the journey over the end result. Yes, we are our actions and we are our thoughts. Yes, we are meant to succeed and we are meant to fail; no journey to a higher truth is complete without it. And yet when our character is noble, we have achieved everything.
Photography by Marina Mashaal