How We Open to the Light of the New Year 2016
In mindfulness practice, I have often said, “every moment is a new moment, every breath a new breath.” This is the essence of our practice — to keep returning to the perpetually unfolding, changing moment. In each moment we can begin anew; we can start again to remain present to the here and now.
Two phenomena are occurring simultaneously: this impermanent and continuously changing moment and all that it contains, and the reality that certain forces in our world and our lives continue to endure for a timeless duration. This is happening as the earth keeps moving about its orbit, cycling the sun; we see it in the law of gravity (what goes up must come down) and in how the yearly seasons remain despite changes in in the weather. This is also what is happening as the earth passes from the shortest day of the year to slowly returning to greater light.
These time-immemorial phases and cycles govern our personal lives, affecting our body temperature, biorhythms, energy and sleep cycles, and moods. We are subject to forces of nature and we respond to their impact upon us. The amount of light and heat we receive influences our circadian rhythms and, just like our ancestors, we thrive and move towards the light to awaken from a wintry slumber, and a shifting of metabolism begins to motivate our bodies physically as well as our emotional and mental thought patterns.
Returning to the light is truly an awakening process on all levels. As we arouse and absorb the stimulating force of light upon us, we begin to open, as a plant turns towards the light (tropism) and away from the dark and cold. It is at this turning point biologically and socially where we are renewing and preparing ourselves for the unknown, which is both approaching us as we move into it.
It is now that we are ready to face the light and use the power of intention to motivate us in making a mindful resolution that will frame and shape our attitude, behavior, deeds, and actions in daily our lives. The Buddha compared our intentions to a sapling tree that would grow strong and tall if given the proper nutrients and conditions for flourishing. We are asked to do no less for ourselves. Plant the seeds of you intentions deeply in the soil of your heart-mind and they will mature into a ripe fruit that will bring meaning and fulfillment to life.
How to do this:
- Enter into a meditative state and take quiet time to reflect on your past year and ask yourself, “What in my life am I prepared to let go of that is no longer useful?” Once you know and are clear with this, take some time to physically release this through writing and then burning the words. This is a ritual-like action.
- Take a short break by taking a walk or stretching your body and return to the contemplative mode. Put on some soothing, meditative music (Indian flute, is a good choice) and reflect upon your current life in the present. Ask yourself, “What is of benefit to me that brings meaning and contentment?” Then arrange beforehand with someone who is kindred to you will listen mindfully hear and enjoy your happiness.
- Take a break with some tea and food and eat slowly and gently. Then return to the meditative mode and sit following the breath or the body and after a time ask, “What do I want to bring into the New Year, what are my intentions and my resolution for taking action in word and deed?” Once you have reflected on this and you know, begin a slow walking meditation outside and find something that will remind you of your resolution and will be a remembrance for you.
Now that you are complete, enjoy your accomplishment.
“And now we welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been” —Ranier Maria Rilke