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.