Cat From The Mat

Secure Your Valuables

 "We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”  ~ Ellen Goodman  

We are encouraged to focus on what we want to accomplish in the New Year.  This can set up disappointment, since putting the attention on the outcome can overshadow the intention embedded within any desired resolution.  Before looking at any strategy of doing, it’s first helpful to focus on one’s quality of being, which might determine how actions unfold. What do you value moving forward?

After a dark and tumultuous 2018 full of illness, death, and grief, I am embracing this new year with radical self-trust.  So for the first time ever, I chose to spend New Year’s Eve/Day quietly alone and in silence.  I am starting to find solace in the peace and quiet, as I mourn. 

In the fall, I attended my first silent meditation retreat.  Amidst the sunny and temperate desert environs of Joshua Tree, CA, I immersed myself in silence, known as “mouna” in Sanskrit.  I was worried that I might be uncomfortable within the quiet boundaries set.  And surprisingly, I took to it like a duck in water.  I appreciated the luxury of quietude, while I focused on my inner more subtle experience.  In fact, I felt somewhat resentful once the silence was lifted as I flew back home to the very noisy environs of New York City. 

Since the age of three, I have been fortunate to explore the world.  When I carried out my Fulbright scholarship in 1991, I traveled extensively around Europe.  As a Eurailpass holder, I slept on overnight trains.  To protect myself from unwanted thieves, I would sleep with my passport and money tucked on the inside of my clothing while embracing my backpack. The concept of “better to be safe than sorry” provided some ease.  However, it also set up a climate of attachment and mistrust.  This scarcity sentiment continued through my life as my housing upgraded from moving trains to hostels to hotels with lockable safes.

The meditation retreat housing not only lacked any safes but there were no keys to lock any of the doors.  At first, I decided that I could acquire peace of mind by stashing my “valuables” in my suitcase and secured TSA lock.  After a day or two of constant meditation, my anxious attitude began to loosen its grip and slowly my need to protect my belongings lifted.  As I got deeper into my practice, I had the epiphany that what I truly value can never be stolen.  

Circumstances can change.  Our homes might be engulfed in a fire or drowned in a flood.  Relationships may fade.  Someone might abscond with another's cell phone, wallet, or sentimental items.  The body breaks down as we age and eventually decomposes.  What is left is one’s spirit, which is not measurable and also cannot be taken away. 

Some of my “valuables” are dignity, integrity, and authenticity.  The only way that I can be robbed of my values is if I give them away at my own expense.  My qualities reside deeply inside and are not determined by others or external factors.  

In this new year, I encourage you to identify what it is that you value about yourself.  Starting from that vantage point, how you choose to express your attributes will show up in any and all resolutions.  Your valuables are therefore always safe, whether under lock and key or being generously shared with the world.  

To a happy, healthy, and humorous 2019…cheers!

Cat From the Mat

January 2019