If you believe your soul came here to learn something, or to unlearn something from a past life, or to experience life in the body, it's doing that right now, and all day long, whether or not you learn how to call down the infinite light through your crown chakra. You are already "just doing it." If you believe life is an ultimately meaningless conjunction of eukaryotic chemical interactions, it certainly is. You don't have to fix your life, you don’t need New Year's resolutions. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the core sacred scriptures of Hinduism, says each one of us goes to the heaven we imagine while we are alive. So stop worrying!
My teacher says the soul chooses one of seven kinds of humans to become: king/queen, warrior, priest, server, sage, artisan, or scholar. I'm a sage and the core marker of this kind of human is they want to have fun and want to spread fun to others. So it's very like me to say this: Don't make your New Year's Resolution to "work" on your spiritual life. Rather, do it because you want more fun in your life. If your spiritual life doesn’t deliver delight, what use is it?
Martin Luther, the founder of Protestant Christianity, said, “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”
Don't get me wrong - "Having fun" doesn’t mean things are easy or without pain. Having fun doesn’t mean all-day masturbation followed by eating chocolate covered cherries (unless, in some way, you have identified that as exactly what your soul came here to learn.) I think about people who play football, or do gymnastics, or devote themselves to the cello. There is great discomfort in all of it. I say to you, brothers and sisters, see the discomfort as part of the fun, not as the shit-covered barrier that you will someday climb over and leave behind. (Because guess what: there is never a point where the spiritual life is without discomfort, and if someone promises you something different, I suggest you do not give them your money or time.)
Another way of saying the paragraph above: A spiritual life is for one thing: keeping you from being called into the Camp Of Despair, as one of my teachers says. Or as the poet Rilke says, the spiritual life is about revelling in the experience of being defeated, decisively by constantly greater beings.
If you are drawn to building a bigger, deeper, more lovely or interesting spiritual life or practice, it's because your soul made you this way. You are, right now, the way your soul wanted to be. This yearning you feel in you for the kind of fun that spiritual practice delivers – the bigger lens, the re-framing of suffering, the new view of purpose - this is the way your soul wanted to be this time around, as it wends its way through this cotton candy-laughing-puking carnival ride called human life. So let it be joyous, because you're doing it right.
My practical approach to New Year's Resolutions:
- The most practical thing I've learned about "manifesting" is this: Answer to yourself how you want to FEEL. This is different than asking and praying for things to happen to you. For example, when I first did this, I thought I was praying to manifest "money." That's a thing, and it's abstract, really, and it is outside of me. When I re-framed it as "manifesting how I want to feel," I realized I was asking to feel SAFE. That feeling is immediate, right here, and about far more than money.
- So ask yourself this question: how do I want to feel this year? Or: what feeling do I want to manifest this year? What feeling do I want to experience more of, and summon in me more often? Place your focus on the feeling. Move toward that feeling, by experimenting and daring to try it. Be open to the bigger lens - that your resolution may not be what you first thought it was.
- And then ask for Spirit's help in bringing it all to you. Spirit helps us when we let it, when we let go of the idea that it's "all up to me" and that my destiny lies only inside my human psychology. When you ask Spirit to help you bring that feeling, look for the doors that appear. They very often look unlike what you imagined they'd look like.
- And here is a weird little resolution: Ask yourself what you wish people understood about you better that they currently do not understand? Be a little careful about diving into the swirling waters of martyrdom - what we often want is to have people understand better how deeply we suffer. 70% of Facebook exists for this. It's not unimportant, but I think of this question more as "What strength do I have in me, that has always been there, that I want people to see more clearly?" (For more on martyrdom, check out this other piece of mine.)
Wishing you a potent and practical 2020!