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January 2017: A Time of Symbolic Renewal

The rebirth of light that comes at the winter solstice heralds the beginning of a new year. It’s a doorway of sorts into a new cycle of life-a fresh start, like a new fallen snow where, briefly, everything seems clean and unmarked. The renewal we feel in this deep, dark season of winter is an inward one. Unlike the rebirth of springtime that propels us out of doors, the garden we’re growing now is an internal one. We all sense this on some level, explaining the collective flurry toward self-improvement as we make New Year’s resolutions, join gyms, and renew our intentions to quit bad habits.

Each New Year offers a symbolic door of opportunity. Symbolic because nothing outwardly has changed. Just as a fresh snowfall doesn’t really clean what’s underneath it, the New Year hasn’t changed anything but our minds. Yet it’s this very shift in perception that creates the opening for personal transformation. So, in keeping with this season of inner change, here’s a self-improvement exercise that looks within to find the direction of our highest growth.

Before going any further, put yourself in a relaxed, quiet frame of mind with some deep, slow breaths. Read the next section carefully, with your imagination awake because you are about to meet the symbolic “door of opportunity” that this New Year holds for you:

Let your awareness be soft and open. Imagine how it feels to shift your vision from focused attention on a small detail to a broad focus that takes in a whole landscape at once and let your mind relax open in this same way….

Now, allow to come to mind the image of a door. Close your eyes for a moment before reading further and let this image appear. See what pops into mind first and simply notice everything you can about it….

Imagine that this door is calling you to do something with it. You’ll know what to do because it will feel natural; it will be what you most want to do. You may want to open the door to let something or someone in. Or you may feel drawn to walk through it. If so, what do you see yourself stepping into and what do you see yourself leaving? You may want to close the door to put something behind you or to protect what’s inside. Take a moment to simply let your imagination explore the scene, the door and your relationship to it….

Doors are potent symbols of transformation. Rich in metaphorical meaning, doors can open to let in some fresh, new element, or they can offer a threshold to cross, compelling us to take a step, to act or to move into a new realm. And sometimes they need to be closed, putting an end to a chapter of life, creating closure, or to preserve warmth and protect our inner sanctum.

Opening to let something in, closing to put something behind us, closing in cocoon-like, and taking the step that begins a new journey are universal aspects of growth that we all go through at different times.

Consider that the door you just imagined is offering you a personal metaphor full of meaning and information as to how you can move more consciously with the current of your growth at this time. Here are some questions to help you get started in understanding its relevance for you.

If your door was opening to let something in, ask yourself, how are you becoming or needing to become more open? Do you need to relax personal defenses, trust more, and let people in? Did your door let in light and a breath of fresh air, urging you to open your mind? Do you need to consider a fresh perspective and be less stuck in familiar ways of thinking?

If you felt called to walk through the door in your visualization, how are you currently moving from one state to another in your life? Is it time to take action, summons courage, move into the unfamiliar, be bold, or come out of hiding? Is there an initiation of sorts calling you to step out of the small confines of who you have been to become something more? Is it time to come out of your comfort zone?

If your door was closing, what were you closing it on or closing out? Is there something in your life experience that you’re ready to let go and leave behind? Is it time to put the past behind you? What endings do you need to attend to in order to move into the next phase of life free of unfinished business? Or, if your door was closing something in, are there ways you need to create stronger boundaries in your life? Do you need to say “no” more often? Do you need to pull in, conserve energy and be in a cocooning phase to let something incubate internally? Do you need solitude? Or do you simply need to exercise control over whom you let into your inner sanctum?

Let the imagery of your door suggest an action that is an appropriate stretch in the direction of your growth. It could mean inviting someone in: perhaps literally by having an unaccustomed dinner party or figuratively by taking an emotional risk to let someone into your heart. It could mean taking some bold action to come out of hiding, get moving, or transition to a new realm. It might involve setting limits, conserving energy, or taking time for yourself.

Doors are everywhere and we open, close and move through them many times a day. As you perform the mundane, physical act of going through doors, hold in mind the metaphor of your inner door. If your door was letting in fresh air, stand at the doorway for a moment before leaving your home and invite new energy into your life. If you were boldly walking through your door, imagine taking a powerful step into a new realm as you walk across thresholds. Or, give extra attention when you close your door and bring to mind all you are putting behind you or protecting. Let the physical experience of doors this week be a constant reminder and affirmation of the inner growth you have set in motion.

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