Every year I chose a word that represents something I want to work on for the upcoming year. It could be something I want more of in my life. It could be something I want to focus on in specific areas of my life. Either way - in addition to resolutions - I like to pick a word as a guiding concept to keep me centered all year long.
Unfortunately, I was having a lot of trouble picking a word this year.
I wanted a word that represents the Buddhist principle of detachment. I've been thinking a lot about this concept. The idea of letting go of expectations and the stories we tell ourselves and the power we let other people and outside experiences have over our lives.
Clearly, I'm not the only one thinking a lot about this concept if the current issue of Real Simple is any indication
But "let it go" is three words and the related words weren't quite right. Obviously, detachment has too much of a negative connotation in English. The point is not to stop caring about the things and people you love. One friend suggested release, which I really liked but just couldn't connect with. I think because it implies one act of letting go as opposed to more of a daily practice.
Surrender was close. Accept was closer but still not it.
Finally, I told Nicholas I was going to look for the word in Sanskrit - the classical language of India and often used to describe spiritual concepts in yoga and Buddhism.
He was skeptical... to say the least.
Well, what do you know! Turns out there is a Sanskrit word for the practice of non-attachment - as opposed to Detachment.
I love this explanation and it perfectly sums up a concept that Dan Harris deals with a lot in one of my favorite books of 2014 - 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story. (Seriously, y'all, if you do one thing for yourself in 2015, read this book!) How do we stay invested in our lives without becoming slaves to our emotions?
It builds a type of resiliency. It allows some breathing room. Dan Harris describes it as the ability to respond to events in our lives instead of merely reacting.
I want that in my life. I want the ability to be in the presence of powerful feelings and events - including my love for children and husband - without being controlled by them. I want to be able to pour my entire effort into something without feeling like my value is defined by the outcome.
I don't want to detach from that love or that effort. I still want to be the passionate person I have always been.
So, vairagya is my word.
Do you have a word for 2015?