I’ve been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions for as long as I can remember. They help narrow my focus to one or two things that I want at the top of my pyramid of life.

Six months ago, I came up with two such items: Adding an afternoon meditation session and “Focus awareness on when you need to let go.” The first one has been going well six months in. I’ve been doing a short meditation session five out of seven days a week, which is what I’d set out to do.

As for the second, it’s worth detailing why I chose it in the first place. In prior years, I’d resolved to let go. Why? I’ve written extensively about why letting go is the be-all, end-all of spirituality.

The baggage we carry

We’ve all accumulated egoic baggage that sits in our lower selves, causing us all manner of problems. And whether we meditate for a cumulative one hour or one-thousand hours, that baggage isn’t going anywhere unless we let it go.

One would think that letting go when our baggage is poked would be the first and only step in the letting go process. But it isn’t. It’s the second step.

The first step is becoming aware when we’ve been poked. If we don’t stop and realize this, we can’t and won’t let anything go. So that’s why I came up with the “Focus awareness on when you need to let go,” resolution.

This one didn’t take. For whatever reason, it felt too amorphous and squishy. It wasn’t concrete enough.

The mid-year correction

So it occurred to me last week, why not do a mid-year course correction? No need to stick with something that isn’t working for a full year.

The replacement was easy. It’s something I find myself using literally every day, multiple times a day.

It’s something I wrote an article about last December: “The Most Important Word in Spirituality.” (Link here.) What is that word?


Why is relax the most important word in all of spirituality? Because it precedes all others. We need to be relaxed in meditation or we will get nowhere. We need to be relaxed to let go. We need to relax in order to remain mindful in all manner of stressful life situations.

Relax is the sine qua non (without which, there is nothing) of spirituality.

Fully relax BEFORE responding

But we need to be mindful about how we use this relax concept in stressful situations. Let’s use an example to illuminate.

You’ve just finished cleaning the kitchen and your spouse or significant other comes in, puts some detergent in the dishwasher, turns it on, then says, “You have to actually run the dishwasher to wash the dishes.” Then he or she (in my case, it’s definitely a SHE!) walks out.

You immediately feel a rush of bile surging up from your lower self that desperately wants you to explode. But being the mindful master you are, you tell yourself to relax and immediately begin fashioning your response to this verbal broadside.

Far more effective is to set everything aside as far as a response and put 100 percent of your attention and will on relaxing. That’s all you’re doing. Relaxing…

After several moments, then go and deal with the situation. In this one, it might be best to do nothing. Maybe your spouse/S.O. is just in a bad mood. So we let it go.

The takeaway

Getting back to the macro view on this, relaxing is something we can and should focus on every day. I find myself doing it all the time. At red lights. When one of my kids is dancing on my last nerve.

And some early mornings when I wake up and find that my mind is running wild. I don’t tackle the thoughts and try to “solve” them. I merely place my attention on going inside and relaxing my entire body. I find it highly effective.

If there is any word I recommend you keep top of mind, it’s relax.