January Meditation

Looking Back, and Towards What Lies Ahead

by Daidie Donnelley


The first month of the new year comes soon after the sun has reached its lowest point and begins to rise. Appropriately the month is named after Janus, the Pagan god of endings and beginnings. The Romans depicted Janus as having two faces – one looking to what is behind and one looking toward what lies ahead. Janus was also called the guardian of exits and entrances, for to begin again one must exit one state and enter another. In our culture, this idea continues in the form of New Year’s resolutions – resolutions to diet, to exercise, to simplify one’s life. These resolutions spring from the impulse to better oneself, and in a deeper sense to find new ways to be nourished.

In that spirit, take a moment to look back at 2014. What stands out? Whether pleasant or difficult, every experience contains within it the seeds of nourishment. So as you look back, allow yourself to feel nourished by whatever you went through. Take a few moments to remember an experience that deeply affected you. Where in your body do you feel it? Is it heavy or light? Smooth or sharp? Try to sense physically what that experience was like. Imagine the seeds from the experience sinking down through your body into the ground and beginning to sprout. Think of the way that experience affected you and take a moment to reflect on what you learned. Picture its offshoots like a fresh green plant rising up in you, filling you, until you are able to feel an embodied sense of its lesson(s).

Now look forward into the coming year. Feel its expanse opening up in front of you – a fresh new year of possibility. What is calling to you? How do you need to be nourished? What do you want to bring into your life in the coming year? It may be a personal quality you want to manifest; an experience you want to have; an action you want to take; or a daily routine you want to practice.

At first, until they manifest, such callings are vague and amorphous; like the air they are difficult to grasp. So rather than trying to think with your mind, take a moment to listen to that calling – allowing it to arise effortlessly in your imagination. See if you can find an image, a sound, a sensation that represents this calling. Now feel it in your body. If you have an image of the heart – feel your heart opening. If you hear water flowing – feel your body becoming more fluid. If you sense adrenalin running through you – feel the excitement of embarking on a new path.

As you get more in touch with the calling, bring it into your consciousness by finding words to frame it as an intention. Once you’ve found words for it, synchronize the words with your breath. I want to be a kinder person – breathe in kindness; breathe out whatever interferes. I want to be more vital and alive – breathe in vitality; breathe out whatever interferes. I want more spacious and quiet in my life – breathe in spaciousness and quiet; breathe out whatever interferes. With each breath in, you are nourished and enlivened; with each breath out, you release what is holding you back.

At any moment of the day, you can stop what you’re doing and remind yourself of what is calling to you by bringing your attention to your breath – breathing in what is calling to be born. In this way, you breathe what you want into being. As the poet Rilke wrote, Life goes forth from within us, moment by moment.

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