When you wake up on January 1 you’ll be starting your new year. You have a few choices about how to launch into 2016. You can roll out of bed and treat it like any other day. You can also sleep late, nurse your hangover, and face the day like you would the last day of a vacation. A third option, and one that can coincide with either of the previous choices, would be to awaken to 2016 in a way that honors the profound shift in time and space that it offers.
While awakening is just another word for waking up, I’m using it differently here. We wake up daily because this is part of our physical wiring. The process of waking up each morning is actually a very systematic yet complicated process that your body does without your awareness. Like riding a bike, you implicitly remember how to wake up without thinking. Awakening, on the other hand, is a fully conscious process that requires intention and effort. When you become awakened you become aware of something, and very often it’s something you didn’t know before.
January 1 brings a perfect opportunity to experience a moment of awakening. Many of us live our lives on autopilot, never really immersing ourselves in the moment-to-moment actions we take. This isn’t easy when schedules get rushed, work becomes busy, and we have a million things to fit into the day. It’s rare to have moments of awe or awareness because to do so we would have to be fully present, focused on what is being uncovered. Without paying attention and without true intention, it’s almost impossible to become awakened, which is why it doesn’t happen very often.
On the first day of the year, you can set a precedent for yourself by starting off 2016 with a moment of awakening. Perhaps it will be a daily, weekly, or monthly habit, but at the very least you can do it as part of the new year with the intention of having a different and new experience. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process or an elaborate effort. All you need to do is decide you want to try this and then follow these four easy steps. You can obviously do this any day of the year, but January 1 is special and important, making the idea of this more probable.
Begin by setting aside a few minutes between now and January 1. Use that time to pick one thing you want to use for your awakening on the first day of the year. It could be a poem, a gratitude statement, a prayer, an intention, a song, or moment of silence. Decide in advance what you’ll be using as part of your awakening so when the time comes you’re ready to go.
Wherever you are, find a space that is quiet and private. You don’t have to be sitting. Walking outside works, or you can even dance. If space is limited this can be done silently while lying in bed or even in the shower. We can always find a moment even in the midst of chaos. If you have the opportunity to increase the feeling of your space with scent, light, or any other grounding element that would be a welcomed perk.
Take a few minutes to do what you planned with the intention of being present and open to whatever you feel, think, or uncover. The Buddha’s awakening came while he was quietly sitting under a tree. Each person has their own experience, but what’s essential is the intention of discovery and an openness to learning something new. The sole purpose of this exercise is to cross over into the new year with purpose.
The new year can be considered a rite of passage. As you transition from 2015 to 2016, you’ll be marking the process with a practice that takes you from one place in time into the next. This isn’t just a new year, it’s a step into a new world and very often a new you. Make 2016 the year that you did it differently and in a way that changes you for the better.