My word for 2015


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.

I've been picking a word for three years now. In 2013, my word was simplicity. In 2014, my word was growth. I've felt the power of having a word - especially this last year

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.

Yoga says no to detachment. Do not avoid situations in life or even in yourself, but learn to accept the existence of the things that are around you. Once you have accepted them and know their nature, then it is possible to become non-attached. The word ‘non-attachment’ does not really exist in English, but it exists in Sanskrit in the form of vairagya, meaning to to be free from attachment, without rejecting anything. It represents a state of mind that is continuously observing the nature of events and is unaffected. Non-attachment can easily be developed provided we can expand our awareness to see the reality behind things.
— Yoga Magazine

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? 

Striving is fine, as long as it’s tempered by the realization that, in an entropic universe, the final outcome is out of your control. If you don’t waste your energy on variables you cannot influence, you can focus much more effectively on those you can. When you’re wisely ambitious, you do everything you can to succeed, but you are not attached to the outcome — so if you fail, you will be maximally resilient, able to get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the fray.
— Dan Harris

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?