A New Year’s Blessing
This article is not about making New Year’s resolution lists or giving you a pep talk and strategies for how to keep your resolutions. Instead I’m writing to encourage you to feel out what a New Year really means to you, invite you to find lasting, real answers inside yourself, and let you know that the world needs your passion and truth.
But first off, congratulations for making it through another year, regardless of how you spent that year and whether or not you kept your last year’s resolutions. It’s no small miracle simply to be alive. Take a moment, feel this gratitude well up in your heart….just to be here.
Holidays are more meaningful when something in us changes in accord with the meaning of that holiday. For example, in the northern hemisphere we just passed through the winter solstice and Christmas, celebrating the return of the light and longer days. When we internalize the outer celebration of increasing light, we meaningfully join with the cycles of nature by catalyzing our inner light for growth. It is fitting then that our New Year is celebrated just after the solstice, giving us a chance to integrate the shift from growing darkness to the returning sun.
In the southern hemisphere it is summertime this time of year, but Christmas and the New Year are celebrated nonetheless, even though these holidays coincide with the summer solstice there.
For the next few weeks we will all hear the words “Happy New Year.” We say it ourselves, sometimes with little sincerity, out of obligation. The greeting in fact has become almost as hackneyed as “How are you?” or “Goodnight.” When sacred moments become obligatory and worn out by knee-jerk repetition, they lost their meaning and we lose heartfelt connection to otherwise meaningful moments.
How then can we go about being truly happy for the New Year; how can we make this new year truly new? Certainly, not simply by saying “happy new year” over and over. So I invite each of us to drop our habitual lip service, our cliché, banal and contrived gestures, to close our eyes, and really feel into our hearts and bodies for an answer. The answers may not come immediately, or even in literal ways. Perhaps newness is found leaning in to the instincts of our bodies, the imagination of our shortcomings, the pleasure of our muscles, or the wisdom of our bellies? If we are patient and give these gestures of renewal the time and attention they deserve for having given us all we already have, we can reap the rewards of transformation. This is how gratitude generates more love.
When you feel into with what can be truly new, what comes up? Will this be the year you finally let go of the job that has starved your soul for too long? Will this be the year we harness passion to slice through apathy and denial so our true gifts and courage can infuse our existing job, relationships, children, and our own self-love? What is ready in you, what part of you can the world no longer without? Can we use the beginning of this year as a good excuse to let go of the comforts that have secretly perpetuated our insecurity?
Our planet needs your joy, your courage, creativity and talents, friend!
I have always loved these days between Christmas and the New Year. The energy of the Earth seems to open, if only because so many of us slow down, open up and fill each others’ support and presence. Many of us have extended the holiday break and remained with family and friends, taking a break from our normal busy lives, if only to busy ourselves with reconnecting and communing with one another.
In preparation for New Year’s we can reflect on the places that do not quite measure up to our full potential. We know those places in us, and we can make resolutions to change these lazy habits, shortsightedness, and not quite living the life we know we are here to live. While identifying our weaknesses is important for self-growth, inquiry can quickly turn into self-condemnation driven by guilt, habit, and obligation. No doubt, finding the places in ourselves where we have missed the mark (the original meaning of the word “sin”) is a carry-over from the fear-instilling, magical thinking and manipulative ways of religious institutions. Let us all take a deep breath and make our first resolution to be easy on ourselves, to forgive ourselves by administering forgiveness even in the midst of feeling remorse. Let us not dwell on our failings, unless our truth tells us that doing so transforms us.
New Year’s resolutions do not have to be just about identifying the places in us that could stand to be renovated and renewed. Entering these days leading up to the New Year with a sense of sacredness, feeling out the places of gratitude in ourselves—in friends, the beauty of nature, the quiet, our strengths and successes, and compassion for another—can help us connect with the bounty and positivity that is always ready to grow into more. Indeed, this grace and goodness is new only in its manner of expression. And this—generating and expressing more love—is what being human is all about, isn’t it?
So, we don’t need to feel into the places of deficiency to make positive changes. Feeling our gratitude for life can inspire us to imagine new ways to expand our existing appreciation for life—to share and generate more beauty, justice, and acknowledgment for all. Let’s not stop with all the good we do. Let’s open up to give and receive even more. If you have followed the real news, you know that our world needs all of what we have in us, badly. How will you activate your heart’s endless capacity for gratitude, forgiveness, and beauty?
As we create the sacred space to increase our gifts and thanksgiving, as well as soberly assessed those that need an overhaul, we may find it easier to genuinely wish others a happy new year. Likely this greeting will come from the same place we contacted in ourselves to find our own answers for more happiness, aliveness, and gratitude. Rather than the drone of the same old limp words, the new tone in our voice can instead ring the hearts of those we greet.
So Happy New Year to YOU, fellow Earth-being.
Difficulty and challenge are the times of greatest opportunity. With the ecological, economic, and health atrocities, as well as the everyday real-life challenges already afoot in our world, 2012 promises to be a pivotal and potent year. Prepare yourself. Cultivate and generate the passionate gritty love we all need to make it through the changes with grace, dignity, and wisdom. Sink in, feel the place where “Yes” rises in you. How does it want to express itself; is the best you have to offer to the world? Soak in it, set your sights, ride your storm of fire—bust this new year open with your full self, and make it last.