New Year, Old You?
I personally find the idea that come January 1st we suddenly give ourselves permission to do things differently just a bit nuts. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and practice to be something different, to create and maintain new habits. Without taking realistic small daily steps it can be so hard to reach any ‘goals’ in a meaningful way, to be somehow ‘better’ than we were last year.
It also potentially sets us up to fail before we have even started! What we may not realise we are doing is creating high expectations that, when we don’t meet, we have yet another thing to beat ourselves up for.
To create lasting change in our life, change that has meaning and impact, we must practice regularly making changes to our habits that can stick. They also need to have purpose, for instance, if you were to make a resolution to buy fewer clothes, then know why you are doing it. Maybe it’s to save money? Or to help the environment? Meditation can help you find clarity on these goals and your priorities. You can find the motivation that will allow you to live a more intentional life and therefore give you the tools for lasting change.
It can help us to focus on the things that really matter to us and our personal priorities. For me this is about the kind of footprint I want to leave on this world.
One of things I have found from my daily practice of meditation and being present, is a more pronounced awareness of the impact of my actions. For those that have known we a while, you will know that I have been passionate (perhaps borderline militant!) about reducing waste, especially plastic and water use, for years and years. It massively helps that is it finally being shouted about by forces bigger than me, but I am now so much more aware of the need to question every purchase I make – to consider the impact it is having. This quote by humanitarian Michael Meegan sums it up for me:
“We were not designed to live the lifestyle that has become predominant today. The nature of our Western economy is to feed an insatiable value system based on having more. It is based on people not being happy. If people began thinking that they were content with what they possessed already, the economy could no longer sell you the latest style or the latest ‘must-have’ stuff.”
But for me to do this, I need to make small steps every day. Pause to ask myself, do I really ‘need’ this. Will it somehow make me ‘happier?’ One great tip I heard for online shopping is to leave something you are about to buy in the shopping cart for 24 hours, and if the next day you end up certain that it’s a worthwhile purchase then only then go and buy it!
The latest copy of the Big Issue mentions this fantastic growing trend of ‘borrowing shops’ where you can take a loan of anything from tools to household appliances, camping gear and even suitcases. I am definitely going to find my local one of these, as my intention this year is to reduce the amount I purchase with a view to reducing my impact. It is important to be clear about the steps that we need to take to begin the journey to reaching our intentions, with the knowledge we may never get ‘there’ and to be kind to ourselves along the way.
If you would like some help setting your intentions for this year I came across this great intention setting exercise that I will share with you. Try giving it a go with a soft heart and open mind to allow for all eventualities!
- Sit comfortably, relax your body, and close your eyes.
- Slowly, gently, breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
- Now, imagine that you are breathing in all of 2019 and what transpired for you, bringing the whole year into your lungs with each breath.
- Survey your memories as they come in on your breath and fill your lungs, catching glimpses of the year’s high and low moments.
- Allow yourself to feel the good, bad, disappointing, marvelous, wondrous, thanking everything that life brought to you this year.
- Feel the fullness of the year, savoring these moments of reflection.
- Let it all go. With a few deep, long exhales, let it all go.
- Experience the flow of your breath a few times, in and out, and then rest, sensing the air coming in through your nostrils and flowing out.
- Let your breath flow naturally, effortlessly.
- Next, imagine a field of snow, freshly fallen all around you, pure, expectant, inviting.
- Allow your heart to swell and your ears to attune: What is calling to you this year? Where does your heart long to go? Feel and sense deeply.
- When you are ready, let your eyes open: Welcome to a new beginning.
Take some time to take note — and ideally, write down — what came up for you during this practice.
What thoughts and memories did you notice? What feelings came up for you? What made you smile? Feel calm or nourished? Are there things you feel relieved to let go of and leave in the past? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please let me know what came up for you in the comments below
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.” RUMI