In Praise of the Sacred
New Year's Eve. It's a cusp: a point between two distinct spaces, a transition. Accordingly, we are saying goodbye to what is going or is already gone, and welcoming in what is arriving.
There's a lot of "new year, new you" hype going around, implying that this is the year you can will-power yourself into being a better, more deserving person. I don't buy into that (you can read more about why, and what I do instead in an old blog post here) but I do enjoy this time of year. For me, it's a chance to step back from the day-to-day drama of my life for a moment and admire this being human thing for the miracle that it is.
It's a time to remember that simply being alive is sacred.
Sacred is my word for 2020. It encapsulates the quality that I'm calling in - it reminds me of where I want to direct my focus.
In a way, it represents carrying this New Year's energy all year long: it's about holding fast to the miraculous so that I don't get too caught up in the highs and lows, the wins and losses, my own cravings and aversions. It's like changing the lens through which I look at the world. And I know that as I change my viewpoint, what I view also changes.
When I hear the word sacred, I think of deep reverence and awe. It evokes the feeling of standing in wonder at the immensity and fragility of existence. It means not taking things for granted. It means treating what I truly value as important, instead of as an afterthought.
Like any good sankalpa, there's a part of me that balks at the idea. If it was easy, that is to say if I didn't have some internal resistance, I would already be living it.
I can feel it as I type this - the remains of old worries about how I will be perceived if I embrace this way of living. Will people think I'm weird or religious? Will it alienate me? Will it be too much for others or even for myself?
I don't necessarily believe those things just because they're in my mind, but I wanted to share my process with you.
Anytime we reach for something new, the part of us that's comfortable with how things are will reflexively try to pump the brakes to protect us. Even if it doesn't come up right when you set your sankalpa - sometimes that part feels really blissful and hopeful - you can be sure the resistance will eventually appear when you start to make different choices and disrupt old behaviors. (Reminder, if you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say sankalpa, it's all in this old blog post.)
So here's to all of us and our 2020 sankalpas - may we meet our resistance with humility and humor, and may we rise into the new embodiment that awaits us as we step out of our prior incarnation. May it be so!
A Simple New Year's Ritual:
Write down what is passing away in your life on little slips of paper, not because you are trying to get rid of anything, but because you are acknowledging that all things are temporary and you are honoring what you know in your heart is no longer for you, whether you're relieved to let it go or deeply grieving the loss. Take your slips of paper to a fire or a candle, hold them in your cupped hands, and take a moment to close your eyes and feel the energetic weight of all that you're holding. Thank it for being part of your experience, and then one by one, feed your papers to the flames. When you feel complete, cup your now empty hands in front of the fire again. Call to mind what you are inviting into this newly vacant space in your life - it may be something specific and tangible, it may be a word, or it may be just a feeling you're cultivating. Imagine the new blessings coming to land in your open hands. Once again, feel the weight and the quality of what you are now holding. Allow yourself to hold it in your hands and receive it fully. When you're ready, seal the ritual however feels most natural to you, perhaps by placing your hands on your heart and giving thanks, or by bringing the palms together in front of the chest and chanting Om, or anything else that makes you feel complete.