2018’s chapter has come to an end and we are turning the page to 2019. The hype is here and we are all thinking or have thought about our New Year's resolution, hoping that it lasts longer than the first two weeks of January. Many New Year’s resolutions involve a new addition into our daily lifestyle, such as going to the gym or picking up a new hobby. What if this year we changed our thinking about resolutions, passing up the opportunity to add a new activity, and decided to declutter, make space, and create a hopeful void?
Consistently I see us all pursuing the phenomenon I like to call “add plus,” where we continually add more items, activities or pursuits into our daily lives without taking time to realize the true limits of time or what must be removed in order for that to actually be accomplished. Whether the activities involve truly productive pursuits or a mixture of ceaseless procrastination, there is no meaningful difference when it comes to the phenomenon of “add plus.” Moving beyond the simple concept of “removing to replace,” what I am really getting at is the recognition that the deeper work we must all pursue is one directed inward, one of removing physical, emotional, and spiritual barriers to one’s flourishing. Put into more artistic and poetic imagery, what this task is calling for is the re-creation of a void, a margin, a womb in which beauty, creative endeavors, spontaneity, and love can all grow and eventually come forth into this miraculous world.
In practical terms, this practice of removing, of creating a void, of re-incubating the soul takes many forms. The first is in my daily interactions with patients. Despite my cognitive desires otherwise, what I am seeking now more than ever in my preparation to sit with my patients is not more research, knowledge or notes, but emptiness, receptivity, openness to what they truly need in that moment. Seeking to let go of my own distorted thoughts and put down the needs of my other patients, I breathe and listen to create a womb and void in which we can collectively rest as we walk on the path to wellness and wholeness.
Outside of the clinic, I am ruthless about removing distractions, needless tasks and items that remove me from my creative endeavours, my time with my fiance and our dogs, and my space to engage in self care. As I continue to grow in my greater spiritual practice, I have begun to see that my intention must be to acknowledge the shear volume of thoughts, beliefs and experiences accumulated by my presence in this world, and seek to empty myself of these “things” so that I may rest in the persistent awareness of who I really am: love.
While I offer a glimpse of my practical and spiritual pursuits in the greater effort to create the hopeful void, there are many other ways one can begin the intention of removal or re-incubation. You may find that simply writing down a list of daily activities in your life and marking which are truly essential and which are perhaps at best “a maybe,” is one of the most productive practices in this greater pursuit. After making the list, go through the maybes with a careful eye and reflect on which activities would require or take the most energy and act from this new place of mindful understanding. Having less on our schedules allows us to do the essential tasks at hand with a clear mind and healthy heart and create space for the new opportunities of growth and nourishment we could not have seen previously.
As productive beings, we will always feel inclined to fill every free hour with something, anything to do. We will often forget that even though we are motivated by efficiency, we are not robots and need time to de-stress, to declutter. Having a busy schedule is one thing, but teetering into having an overwhelming and impossible schedule is another. Mental health and spiritual growth are not realized by the addition of an activity or a pursuit, but by the removal of one. Let 2019 be the year of the edit, the void, the margin, the creative womb and perhaps you will forget there was ever such as thing as a “New Year’s resolution.”
Dedicated to the flourishing of your being