Practicing a New Year of Consciousness

beach 2The days leading up to New Year’s Day are usually filled with reflection: newspaper stories run the top stories of the year; web sites run the top photos of the year; most of us in one way or another reflect on the year past. When we make our resolutions for the coming year, it’s usually about giving something up, forcing ourselves to change things that seem harmful.

For most of us, the year has been a mixed bag: grief and joy, failures and celebrations, deaths and births, fierce storms and delicate sunrises. We have prayed for peace and hoped for an uplifting of consciousness in a seemingly futile gesture.

What if nothing needs to be forced to change? Forcing ourselves to change is the very thing that gets in the way. What if changing only means practice? For example, to learn how to type on a keyboard, you have to practice.

Perhaps the best thing any of us could do for the collective lifting of consciousness is to change our focus from the “collective” to self.  What if, instead of hoping the world will change, we change ourselves and the way we communicate to the world through others?

What if we were to practice bringing awareness into our communication? Anytime we use language, we have the chance to practice a different way of using it. Self-observation helps us discover what needs to change and how to go about practicing that change.

What if we were to add something to each and every communication pattern? For example, adding the practice of a quick pause before saying something. What if, in that pause, we’d practice taking a breath to give ourselves time to respond instead of immediately reacting?

If we were to practice saying, “Help me understand what you mean when you say…(fill in the blank)…” instead of assuming we know what the other person means because of our own experience, might we avoid so much of the discord in our families, loves, lives, work relationships?

Another phrase to practice might be, “This is what I heard you say…(fill in the blank). Is that what you mean?”

By acting (speaking) and therefore, being, different, can we change the world’s consciousness? What if being was about being eternally present?

Some call this “present” witnessing consciousness; others say centering prayer. The words for it aren’t important—the practice is.

Daily life with all its changes spins around like a storm circling. But we can stand in the calm center. We might not be able to avoid all the debris falling around, but we can, with practice, constantly return ourselves to a calm center, constantly lifting consciousness, one person at a time.

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12 thoughts on “Practicing a New Year of Consciousness

  1. Wow, thank you for a wonderful New Year’s gift! This was refreshing when I’d been feeling like I needed to check lots of things off my list. Maybe it’s not what I do but how I do it.

  2. I appreciate the gentle admonition to work on ourselves first and others last, if ever. My goal is tho be more consistent in doing what I know works well for me and my journey. In relation to Others, I intend to employ a principle close to yours: I will pause and listen actively, reading what is not spoken but felt in my heart.

  3. I liked this, Janet. While reading it, I realized it’s been some time since my goals and resolutions have included the effort to “stop” anything. For the most part lately, I think it’s been more of what you call practice… and my life has improved considerably. I can only hope that my energy has been a good influence on the others around me as I go through my daily life with gratitude and happiness.

  4. Thank you! I’m making only two resolutions this year: 1) to have more fun with friends and family, and 2) to be an intentional teacher in my work. I realize that underlying both of these is a need to return to intentional grace and buoyant hope. So much from these past years has been fatiguing and worrisome, both emotions exacerbating the other.

    I like your reflection and query: “What if, instead of hoping the world will change, we change ourselves and the way we communicate to the world through others?” This is about my own words, my own way of listening and then acting on what I hear. If it sounds solemn, it isn’t. Please remember: My first goal is more fun. Not reckless fun (but then again, who knows?) but the ability to enjoy life despite the hard work, the pains and other worries that abound, and cynicism. I can try for one day at a time, those days making up this next year. Where will I go from there? I don’t need to know yet.

    1. Having more fun… I like that! We could all use a lifting of spirit into fun, I expect. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply (and a little reckless fun never hurts….as long as you aren’t driving…).

  5. my resolutions are always the same -work hard. kilgroe trout said, “the porpuse of life is to be the eyes, and ears, and the consciene of the creator of the universe.” what this means to me is, what gods wants is to witness our diging of everything. that’s how everything is trasmuted back to god.

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