My social media feeds are full of friends and colleagues sharing the New Year's resolutions they've made and intentions they've set. It's the same every year. And while I applaud those who actually carry through with the resolutions and intentions over the long term, that's just not an activity I feel inspired to participate in.
You see, I think there's a reason it's so hard to stick with all the resolutions people make this time of year. Sure, it's the beginning of the new calendar year, but that's an artificial construct. January 1 isn't the beginning of anything in nature. In the northern hemisphere, if you dare to look away from your screen and out your window, you'll see that it's dark and cold these days, the time that Nature slows down, even stops. There's no energy out there, no vibrant springtime or exuberant summertime or even crisp autumn energy. Starting anything new is an uphill slog at best.
This is the season of darkness and hibernation.
Centuries ago, people in Europe and other parts of the world celebrated the New Year around the time of the Spring Equinox. This is the time when the Earth's energy is rising, the days are growing longer, the air is warming, the trees and bushes are blooming. It's the time to plow the fields and plant the year's crops.
It's the season of growth, of burgeoning energy, of vibrancy.
It's the time to start new things.
To me, that's the best time to make resolutions and set intentions. I can ride the wave of growing energy along with the season and let it carry me along as I make those changes. Call it spring cleaning for the soul, if you will.
I've found that when I make resolutions at the Spring Equinox, I'm almost always able to keep them for the long term.
So what do I do at New Year's? I choose a saying for the year. I've done it for a lot of years now. One year I let my blog readers pick a saying for me. But most years I just wait for something to "pop out" at me. This year, the saying came in the form of a graphic that kept showing up in different places I was poking around online.
This year's saying: May all that has been reduced to noise in you become music again.
Once I've chosen the saying for the year, I simply hang out with it for the year. I remind myself of it every morning, and some days, that's all I do. But frequently, something will happen during the day - someone will say a few words or I'll read an article or see an image - and that will give me a whole new perspective on the saying and its meaning in my life. Then I'll chew on the experience and see if I can detect new layers, new understandings not just of the saying but of the bigger picture as well.
I realize that, in our instant-gratification world, meditating on a single saying for a whole year sounds awfully slow and boring. What the practice has taught me is that meaning unfolds only as fast as we're able to accept it. And the more patient we are with ourselves, the more likely we are to find deeper meaning in ourselves and the world around us.
I wish you a year filled with wonder and joy and peace.