Hope in the new year

As a new year begins, many of us find ourselves asking deep questions of ourselves. We contemplate our needs, our desires, our path, and our future in ways that for a time bring us a strange stew of deep joy, slight anxiety, and exuberant motivation. Even as these moments of contemplation pass and we find ourselves back in the present with reality as it is, each of us inevitably carries a glimmer of some kind of hope that this new phase will give birth to some newness in us.

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Each year, instead of making a new year's resolution (which for me sparks undue pressure and eventually some form of self-loathing), I have chosen to focus my energy on carrying the glimmer of hope that the new year allows to emerge within me. Sometimes this hope turns into insight, which eventually becomes action. Other times, it just remains hope, perched in my soul in that beautiful way Emily Dickinson described.

What I have found most beautiful about this way of entering the year is that I remain open to the many ways in which the hope I carry is made manifest in my life, work, and relationships. In other words, I do not limit myself to what I can resolve to do with that hope today. So, for example, my hope entering 2014 is for more active love, and as such, I open myself up to an infinite number of ways that I can enact, explore, and witness active love in the world.

If you want to reveal what this glimmer of hope might be for you this year, I offer you this guided meditation:

Orient yourself in a posture comfortable to you for meditation.
Allow your eyes to close or be cast downward.
Take a few deep breaths in and out, settling into the present moment.

As you relax into the moment, ask yourself what you would like to celebrate from the year that has passed.
Allow the thoughts and feelings that arise to flow freely.

Take a moment to imagine these and other causes for celebration multiplying and growing throughout all areas of your life, work, and relationships.
Allow the thoughts and feelings that arise to flow freely.

Ask yourself to identify the hope that underlies the expansion of these causes for joy and celebration.
In a word or a phrase, give voice to this hope.

Take a few deep breaths in and out.
Return your awareness to your body.
As you are comfortable, open your eyes.

When you come fully out of the meditation, write down the word or phrase that came to you. Carry it with you in the weeks and months to come. Through journalling or spiritual practice over time, you may wish to take note of how your hope opens you up to the newness in you and in others.


Sometimes this hope turns into insight, which eventually becomes action. Other times, it just remains hope, perched in my soul in that beautiful way Emily Dickinson described.
— Perry Dougherty
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Perry is Still Harbor's Associate Director. She believes words have the power to transform for good if they are used with reverence to the sacred nature of all things. She hopes that you feel inspired by the meditations and reflections Still Harbor shares. She is certainly inspired to share them because of you. Oh, and she has been known to take selfies when sitting in trees (<--).