Sandra “Zan” Murray: New Year gifts for your whole life

Preparing this column for Jan. 1, it seemed obvious to write about “Beginning Anew,” a ceremonial practice in the Plum Village Zen Buddhist tradition used when relationships need a “reset,” which happens a lot when people live together.

It also can be used to renew oneself. As much of our own happiness is connected with the people around us, it is good to know ways to keep these relationships harmonious. Two good resources to learn about the practice are the books “Beginning Anew: Four Steps to Restoring Communication” by Sr. Chan Kong and “Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices” by Thich Nhat Hanh, or you can check the website

However, a successful Beginning Anew session requires the abilities to listen carefully and to speak lovingly. Without these skills, Beginning Anew can be insincere and potentially hurtful. The cultivation of these two skills would be a true blessing for the New Year, within or outside of a ceremony. And so my writing turns to preparing the ground in which Beginning Anew can flourish.

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In Buddhist practice we honor the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. A Plum Village recitation says “We invoke your name, Avalokiteshvara.

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