New Year’s Resolutions

The time has come around again for our New Year’s Resolutions. How many people I wonder succeed in visiting the gym more often, or changing their diet, drinking less, losing weight? Just as we have an alternative Christmas message, I wonder if it might be a good idea to think “outside the box” about our New Year’s Resolutions.

Jiddu Krishnamurti’s last words to Mankind were, allegedly:

“Be very aware and make no effort.”

F M Alexander, the founder of Alexander Technique, another of my heroes, also urged us to make less effort, so that we could use our bodies with more elegance and efficiency, and therefore less pain from over-use.

Most people really don’t grasp what he meant by that. It doesn’t mean we necessarily have to do less, or expend less energy. If we use our bodies with grace and greater conscious awareness, we should wear ourselves out more slowly. There are pictures of him in later life looking very sprightly!

Krishnamurti’s words, however, are more profound: He wasn’t concerned so much with individuals “bettering” themselves. He was a deeply compassionate man who saw that a better world would come about, and the suffering of mankind could be alleviated, only if a sufficient number of us were able to relinquish our egotistical self-interest and start to really understand how our thoughts and behaviour affect others and our environment.

This transformation that he talked about had to be instantaneous, it wasn’t a change that could be brought about gradually or in stages, through discipline, or application or meditation, because all these things necessarily involve working from the old paradigm, which is no way to embrace the new paradigm! (My friends who meditate will take issue with this!)

How does all this relate to New Year’s Resolutions?

I can’t really pretend to fully understand Krishnamurti, or Alexander for that matter. If you asked me to explain their ideas I’d struggle to find the right words – many people who feel they have a better grasp of these things will find fault with what I have written here.

I think it’s fair to say that Krishnamurti recognised that most of the world’s problems – divisiveness, discrimination, war, genocide, the over-exploitation of non-renewable resources, pollution, global warming –  stem from human beings’ psychological foibles – short-sighted self-interest, comparison, greed, competition, insecurity. After all, it’s not the cheetahs, the dolphins or aardvarks which are creating this mess.

At New Year we get stuck in the old pattern of thinking again: We may be unhappy with certain aspects of our past, we aim to get fitter, more successful in the future. How wonderful it would be if we could instead just be more consciously aware of our thoughts and actions in the present moment. The world might be a better place, but we’d probably feel much better as individuals as well; that state of attentiveness would be reflected in the way we move, the way we eat, the way we work. We’d visit the doctor less often, maybe go for a massage, or visit an osteopath or take a walk in the countryside more regularly.