New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing. As one year draws to a close and another begins, I reflect on where I’ve been and where I am at that moment. And then I ask the New Year what is important for me to know about my upcoming journey and what it wants from me. This gives me a sense of focus and direction that usually serves me well no matter how the year unfolds. I can already feel it helping me in meeting the realities and possibilities of 2024.
Although we’ve been living with increasing uncertainty and instability in my country and around the world, 2024 feels like we’re about to enter new territory. I’ve described our current era as the Great Breaking Open—an era when the systems, structures, practices, beliefs, and ways of the world we have always counted on are breaking apart. The Great Breaking Open seems to be accelerating and intensifying now as we face greater challenges to democracy, the apparent speeding up of climate change, ongoing wars and humanitarian crises, and more. In 2024, all of us are likely to be stretched beyond our comfort zones in one way or another.
Words of two living authors from opposite sides of the world call out to me as I write. These quotes bring me renewed inspiration, hope, courage, and strength when I get caught up in struggle and frustration. I am not sharing them out of a sense of apprehension or foreboding, but rather as a call to the best of who we are—that individually and collectively we may find clarity, strength, and possibility this year as we live into the gifts we are here to share.
Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive… But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.Haruki Murakami
We did not ask for this room or this music. We were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces to the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. We have been given pain to be astounded by joy. We have been given life to deny death. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.Stephen King
Will 2024 bring a storm, literally or metaphorically? We’ll see. Will we sometimes find ourselves in rooms surrounded by music we didn’t choose? Probably. Might we even dance with unexpected partners? Could be. Whether it’s a storm or music we didn’t choose, what if it could serve as a catalyst for rebalancing, healing, and transformation? The catalyst can only work if we’re willing to dance in new ways.
Healing and transformation won’t happen overnight; maybe not even in my lifetime or yours. Yet it can start with us. And we can keep it moving forward. Transformation unfolds over time and often under cover. Yet then suddenly there is a moment or a year when everything seems to shift, and we are in a new place.
Push Against or Partner With?
Transformational Presence is built on three fundamental principles from ancient wisdom teachings.
- Everything is energy in motion, a part of a larger process unfolding. Form follows energy.
What is happening at this point in human history is simply what is happening now. It’s not forever, but it is what is here now. The choices, decisions, and actions that we take now will shape what comes next. Most likely, there is a much larger process unfolding than we are fully aware of.
If form follows energy, then perhaps the two most important questions for us to ask in 2024 are: 1) Who do we choose to be? 2) How do we choose to be with one another? Because who we choose to be and how we choose to be together will determine what we create.
- Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be transformed.
In other words, whatever is in front of us in any moment has just become our next co-creative partner. It may not be our only partner, but it is what is directly in front of us. The first practice participants in Transformational Presence programs learn is called “Push Against or Partner With.” It’s incredibly simple, yet it can shift our perspective, awareness, and choices for moving forward. Take five minutes for this exercise.
What is taking your attention as you come into this New Year? It might be a worry or a concern or a fear; or it could be an opportunity. Maybe it’s personal, maybe it’s global. Whatever it is, take a breath and let yourself be present with it.
Now for the next 90 seconds, push against it. Use every fiber of your being to fix it, to change it, to make something happen. Do whatever it takes to make it all feel ok. Stay with it, even if it’s uncomfortable. Push against it. And notice what happens with your breath, your sense of well-being, and your relationship to your issue when you push against it.
Then take a deep breath and shake off the “pushing against.” And then one more breath.
Finally, imagine that you can lift above your issue or drop down underneath it—whichever is easier for you. Listen, sense, feel. What if there is something trying to get your attention? What if there is something that wants to happen, something that is trying to shift? As you begin to sense whatever that might be, partner with it. For the next 90 seconds, work with it instead of against it. And notice what happens with your breath, your sense of well-being, and your relationship to your issue.
What do you discover? What is your insight?
- The world is built on a matrix of relationships.
The “Push Against or Partner With” practice is not a magic pill. It probably will not immediately change your situation. However, it can shift your relationship to what is happening. And that opens possibility. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are in relationship with everything and everyone around us all the time. That includes events and circumstances in our countries and in the world. We may not be able to change what is happening right away, yet we can choose our relationship to it. We can choose how we will show up within the situation. We can choose how we look at what is happening, and therefore how we relate to it.
Build What You Love
In closing, I leave you with one more short quote. Eboo Patel, founder and director of Interfaith America, is a frequent guest speaker at Chautauqua where I spend part of every summer. Last year as I listened to him talk about the challenges of our times, he said:
We defeat the things we do not love byEboo Patel
building the things we do.
In this New Year, partner with instead of push against. Put your energy towards creating and building something you love deep in your heart. Maybe it’s a project or a relationship or a company or a service or simply a way of being in the world, or all the above. Maybe it’s big, maybe it’s small; it doesn’t matter. What does your heart want to bring to the world?
Whatever that is, go for it. Be Love in action. Then look around to see who else is doing something similar and find ways you might collaborate or support one another. Do what you love; bring your gifts to the world.
2024 could be a wild ride. Trust that you—all of us—can make a difference if we live with clear intention and conscious presence. And if we do, there’s a good chance we’re somehow going to find our way.
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In doing what I love, I continue offering weekly articles and posts on my Substack blog, Transformational Presence: Conscious Living, Conscious Leading. Please have a look, and if you find the articles there helpful, you are welcome to subscribe for free or become a paid subscriber. The content is the same for both. Becoming a paid subscriber is simply a way of showing appreciation if you wish. Thank you.
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