Happy New Year!  

This month we are presented with a brand new year, full of possibilities.  

How will you spend your time?  With whom?  Do you have specific goals or resolutions?

There’s a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that inspires me:

       Every morning, when we wake up, we have 24 brand-new hours to live.

       What a precious gift!  We have the capacity to live in a way that these 

       24 hours will bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves

       and to others.

                                                                                  Peace is Every Step

Not only do we have 24 hours each morning, but we have well over 300 days in this brand new year in which to bring ourselves and others joy, peace and happiness.  It sounds so amazing but also a little intimidating.  How will we do that?  Do we have any idea how to do that?

In this yoga session we’ve been talking about intentions–I prefer the word “intentions” over “resolutions" because it sounds a little more forgiving and fluid as opposed to the rigidity of a resolution or rule.  The word intention implies space to adjust day to day activities towards a goal without making me feel bad or guilty if I didn’t do everything exactly right or on the list.  I never finish the list, by the way, because there is always, always more to do.

This year my intention is actually to enjoy slow, conscious living instead of rushing all over trying to get everything done and not necessarily enjoying the process.  So, for example, instead of making a rule that I must exercise 5 days each week for 30 minutes at a time, I give myself openings to dance for 15 minutes here, do some strengthening exercises for 10 minutes there, and then I have freedom to slide in a walk or some yoga and somatics that are just for me, as a person and a student (different than teaching).  This way I’m enjoying the movement instead of just “getting it done”.

It would be very easy to slip back into my old pattern of filling every second of the day so I’ve had to put some supports in place.  One thing that I’m doing is to create a little morning routine (a ritual, really).  I give myself a few minutes to journal every morning; it helps me to see patterns in thought and behaviour and to clarify and polish my intention.  And then I do some movement–I call it movement instead of exercise because it sounds more enjoyable to me.  Words matter.  Words have intention attached to them.  So be careful of your self-talk.  Frame your intentions in a positive way.  “I make healthy choices” as opposed to “I need to lose weight”, for example.

At the end of the day, when I’m changing into my pajamas, I intentionally strip the day with my clothes and I purposefully invite relaxation as I change and crawl into bed. I often savour a couple of somatic movements to release those tight shoulders before settling in for rest.  I have found these simple practices at the beginning and end of the day do help me to slow down, be present and bring a sense of peace that affects how I engage with others, with work, and with sleep.

Your intentions may be very different for this year and that’s just fine–we’re all unique and that’s part of what makes life so interesting.  No matter what your intention is, you will need to put some supports in place for yourself.  That could mean altering your schedule; it probably means having a plan and some discipline to follow through and it could mean involving a friend or family member to encourage you.  My daughter does that for me by discouraging me from taking on too many extra projects. 🙂 You will need to draw on some personal resolve or strength and you will also need to be open to flexibility as not every plan works out the way we thought it would.

Whatever your intention, whatever your supports, I encourage you to make conscious choices in speech, action, rest and thoughts.  Ask yourself “does this bring me closer to or further from my intention?   Does this bring me peace, joy and happiness?”

If you wish to further discuss these ideas, I encourage you to join a yoga class, or the meditation membership, do some journalling and/or spend some time in contemplation.  Get to know yourself, and your patterns.  How can you bring peace, joy and happiness to yourself and others?  The more we feel it, the more we spread it, the better off the world will be.  

Self-care is not the same as selfishness.


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