I generally don't make New Year's resolutions, and seeing that I am slowly weening myself of my own perfectionist tendencies, perhaps making one is not the best idea anyway. Sure, I want the typical things, i.e. to be better about writing cards and letters, remembering people's birthdays, decluttering, losing weight, and to have super-toned arms. But even if I were the resolution-making type, I feel that items like these are just distracting from the bigger picture- and from what I really want.
What I want is simple, yet also profound, intriguing- and potentially quite challenging.
I want to become more in tune with life, and the rhythms that help make us who we are.
For so many years I have juggled various obligations- and been a slave to many masters, mainly the clock, the calendar, coursework, exams, labwork, my dissertation, and the expectations of others. The result is that although I may have accomplished a lot academically, years of ignoring and pushing aside the natural rhythms of life has left me feeling unsettled. I feel that for the first time in a long time, the current lull of activity in my life has given me the opportunity to focus on these rhythms, and to dedicate myself to becoming in tune with them.
Although my efforts to cultivate mindfulness would probably count as 'tuning in', they have been sporadic, and more focused on my own actions, rather than how they fit into the bigger picture. As someone interested in Ayurveda (the ancient Hindu system of traditional medicine), I have time and again come across the concept of Dinacharya, or recommended daily routine. I won't get into all the details here, but I will just say that I am impressed with the way Ayurveda determines how to treat and nourish the whole person, based upon carefully determined characteristics of an individual. What's more, is through the recommended daily/weekly actions of Dinacharya, one learns to be in tune with one's own body- and the natural world around us.
Why is this so important to me? I feel that in today's fast paced, modern world, we are vulnerable not only to stress and exhaustion, but to losing sight of who we are- and where we fit within the backdrop of the natural universe. And let's be honest, despite all the gizmos, gadgets, and apps we humans have invented to entertain and comfort ourselves, the serenity of a peaceful natural setting outmatches our "smart" phone every time.
What does all this have with Buddhism? To put it simply, I think that in becoming aware of natural phenomena outside the context of ourselves will be a great endeavor in cultivating mindfulness, not only of the natural world, but in how we are connected to it. This type of wisdom is something I believe would have strong and lasting effects on the physical, emotional, and mental health of sentient beings- and perhaps even on the earth's environment.
So, as far as 'tuning in' I am viewing this as a very long-term goal. After all, years (maybe decades) of being 'tuned out' will certainly take some undoing. But it is not a race. I know it will be hard to switch gears- thinking about he turning of the earth, the changing of the seasons, the phases of the moon- it might all sound very remote. But we must never forget that these things are part of who we are- things we think we have abandoned and forgotten. But we can get back in touch with them, even on a very simple level, if we just take the time to watch and listen.
And that's just what I intend to do.
What did you think about the ideas presented in this post? Do you think it is possible to reconnect with the natural rhythms of life, especially after being 'tuned out' so long? Is it important to even try? How do you think the above relates to Buddhism, if at all?
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished" ~ Lao Tzu
May all beings be happy!