As Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, arrives, I feel the way I do when I practice pranayama: for just a moment, I feel suspended between inhale and exhale, between exhale and inhale. Rosh Hashanah invites us to spend time just that way, the old year behind us, the new year just ahead. We hover and pause, and reflect and hope.
What an extraordinary opportunity to be in the here and now!
Should we fully appreciate the blessings of the past year? Of course. Should we learn and grow from our experiences, and seek to manifest a wonder-filled year to come? Absolutely.
But we can also pause in this moment in time, and recognize that this one moment is worthy of our full attention. The truth is that all we really have in this moment IS this one precious moment, rich with sensation, observation, and feeling. It invites us to slow time down into moment-to-moment awareness, cherishing each impression as it offers itself to us: the smiles around a festive table; the warm glow of candles; the fragrances of a festive meal shared with family and friends; the crunch of newly fallen leaves beneath our feet as we walk the dog.
As much as I treasure this opportunity for pure awareness, I know that it is not restricted to Rosh Hashanah, or to any one tradition. We all have the current moment, and can embrace it, or let it slip by unnoticed. Whether it’s the sound of the Shofar that stirs the soul, the sound of a Conch Shell, or the sound of a fellow student practicing Wave Breath, this I know: that we are all permitted entry; we’re all invited to the party of the present moment!
Let’s open ourselves to the power of now. Let’s slow down and pay attention — perhaps to our breath as it comes and goes: is there a greater gift? or perhaps to the snap in the air as we move into autumn; or perhaps to the sensation of warmth and joy as we do a good deed.
If there is sadness and challenge, it’s good to know that we can experience it in all its raw force … but that this moment, too, will change; the law of impermanence letting us know that even the moments of greatest difficulty will surely yield to others. Healing is possible.
And so, the message of Rosh Hashanah is one that is relevant for all: we can reflect back and learn; we can look forward and hope; and we can learn to embrace the present moment. We can learn to pay attention — to an impression, to a friend in intimate conversation, to a thought, to silence, to our lives.
May we make the most of each precious, present moment and not squander this gift — be it on feuds or global unrest and war.
May we all have a happy, healthy and sweet New Year, filled with moments of joy, connection, community, friendship and peace.