You may be taking the turning of the year, a somewhat arbitrary annual moment during our planet’s trip around the sun, to reflect and resolve on how to be in the coming days. Every one of us has taken an occasion at some point in our lives to set a new intention. A few of these might have stuck, and likely a bunch more didn’t take. Giving yourself a tough assignment once every 365 days, within the context of the many distractions, temptations, pressures and personal habits that will come into play over that time, is surely a tall order. In choosing one achievable wish to extend to you for 2013, I offer this:
an orientation to awakeness
This is a simple yet pervasive kind of wish for you, and really for all of us. It’s not a demand that we all get it together or smarten up. I’m not asking you to grimly, forcibly push yourself into anything. There’s no need to knock yourself on the side of the head when you suddenly notice that you slipped out of being in touch with yourself and the world. This is a simple, conscious orientation, a choice to turn toward. It’s a preference to be awake, to be present to life.
I grant you that that awakeness is easy to lose track of. You’ll have noticed this, if you’ve done any formal meditation or just informally noticed what it’s like to try and hold your attention on a given element of your world. We’ve grown ourselves a complex, swirling, driving situation here and our attentional capacity matches that. So it takes some doing first to admit to this, then to try countering that situation by choosing simplicity and practicing concentration, ultimately to see why it might be a fantastic idea to develop this as an available way of being.
It’s easy to be lost in the mix and swirl. Fortunately, awakeness is just as easily found and re-found. Unlike many resolutions people will make, there are a vast number of opportunities every day to apply your intention to be present. It’s not like exercise, for instance; you don’t need to suit up and get all sweaty to be awake. You just allow yourself to remember, to pay attention to that momentary invitation that whispers, “notice that you’re alive and having an experience.” You do this over and over. The funny thing is, you’ll see that whenever you catch yourself saying “I’m lost,” you’re not. That was a moment ago, and now you’re here, knowing something about the difference between lost and awake. Now becomes the moment you commit to begin again, persistently, with kindness and good humor, honestly knowing you’ll slip away a thousand times. Return simply to this orientation, a gentle turning with profound potential. Begin again.
Here’s to the new year, and to whatever you’re orienting to these days. Let it begin with awakeness, again and again.