Background: For many of us, there will be two sources of stress and pressure. There will be two drives that we here in the upcoming days.
One pressure will be to end the year on a bang. It’s your last oppurtunity to party like it’s 2022. Indulge yourself. Go wild. Cram all the experiences you can into this little tiny window of time.
A second pressure will be to be turn your attention backwards. Reflect. Assess. Set those goals for the new year– resolve to do better, to be better, stronger. More able.
There is nothing wrong with either of these urges. But we have lived out there almost contradictory demands every New Year’s Eve. Perhaps it is time for you to try something new. The good news is that you have been getting ready for this for your whole life. You have built up the requisite skills with your breath itself.
- Release your worries and concerns at this time. Sit as straight as you comfortably can.
- Breathe naturally.
- As best you can, without bringing any concious change to your breath, notice it: notice it with curiosity, interest and gentleness.
- You might first notice that there are two obvious parts of the breath- an inhale and an exhale. Notice each of these.
- Notice how it feels in the mouth, nose, throat, esophagus, and lungs. Feel the breath where it comes in around your nose or lips; feel it where it leaves the body. Note the temperature and volume.
- When you are ready, see that there are more than just those two parts to the breath. There is a pair of transition times too. A time of emptiness before the inhale, a time of emptiness before the exhale.
- Compassionately study these pause-times, these empty-times. If you wish, experiment with extending these out by briefly holding the breath. A count of 4 will do.
- Try to become a scholar of your breath, the world wide expert. Note how each of the breaths has so many things in common with the nearly endless progression of breaths that have come before and will come after.
- Note how this breath– this very one right now– is different from the breaths which come before, and after. There are some tiny ways that this very brief is unique in your entire life. Go looking for this precious differences.
- Continue to hold each breath up to your most careful examination for how they are connected and how they are wholly unique. Continue to notice the inhale, the pause, the exhale, the pause.
- Inhale the things you know that you need during this time of meditation. Exhale the expectations that others have on you for this time of transition. (These expectations might come in the form of parties, or resolutions and goals for the upcoming year.) Continue with this until you are ready for to do the work you hear from your own self it is time to do.
- When you are ready, identify that there are things which came into your life this year. Inhale, as a recognition to the good and the bad that entered your life this year.
- Recognize that there are things which left your life this year. When you exhale, breathe out in recognition of that which is no longer yours this year.
- Continue to breathe in that which you gained and that which you lost this year.
- Now, view the breath differently. Let the inhale be your past, and the exhale be your future. This precious moment right now is the pause in between.
- Let your hopes be the inhale, and your fears be the exhale. The reality you live is the pause between.
- Let the things you cannot change be your inhale; let the things you can change be your exhale. Let the wisdom to know the difference be the pause in between.
- Let this year be an inhalation. Let the coming year be your exhalation. Breathe as many breaths as you need to feel this transition in your body.
- Remind yourself of the pause between the inhale and exhale, even as you continue for the year which is ending and exhale for the year which is beginning, see that this place you are now is the quiet, liminal space between the two.
- Rest in that quiet space between.
- Release this practice when you are ready. Recognize that you can return to it for any time of transition.