The New Year is a symbol for new beginnings. In actuality, each moment affords us the opportunity to begin again.
Here we are - on the first page of a new calendar. Many people use the New Year as an opportunity to both reflect on the past and set intentions for the future. Intentions reflect core values. They reflect the ways in which we desire to live from our hearts. Although New Year's is a popular time to reassess our habits, attitudes, and values, we don't need a holiday or new calendar page in order to give ourselves permission to "begin again".
In mindfulness practice we are invited to "begin again" each time the mind wanders away from the object of focus.
Allow me to share a personal example of setting intentions and beginning again. Despite the fact that I teach self-care for a living, I tend to say "yes" to way too many things and end up compromising my own well-being and effectiveness. This happens more than I care to admit. It manifests in inadequate sleep, thoughtless eating behavior, too much caffeine, too little water, irritability toward my family members, a feeling of rushing from one thing to the next, and creative stagnation. An intention I've set is to really prioritize my well-being so that I can show up for meaningful roles and activities in a way that I feel good about.
Beginning again requires the following:
1. Values Clarification: Knowing what is deeply important to us and why. Regularly check-in with how your values are expressed in thoughts and behaviors. (Example: regularly reflecting on the fact that my self-care is the foundation for how I show up in my family, work, friendships, and volunteer opportunities. Plus, I think that I, too, deserve to be well taken care of, just as I believe others to be!)
2. Mindfulness: An awareness of what is happening in the present moment (Example: noticing that I'm zoning out on social media and resisting going to bed, even though I'm tired and have an early morning ahead of me.)
3. Self-Compassion: being kind and supportive toward yourself when you stray from your values and intentions. We all get caught-up in old stories in our minds, self-protective or indulgent habits, and lose our way. This is part of our humanity. We can choose to beat up on ourselves for this (which causes further stress and more tension and conflict in the mind and body), or we can become our inner ally and use honest, but kind, motivational language to support ourselves. (Example: rather than beating up on myself for resisting sleep and wasting time, I extend understanding and compassion to myself: "Bonnie, you've had a busy week and you're tired. You're trying to find some peace and quiet, but this isn't going to help in the long run. You need a good night's rest.")
4. Permission to Begin Again: take a breath, reorient yourself to your values, and give yourself permission to take the next best step in service of your intention. (Example: I can choose to take a few deep breaths and consider turning in rather than continuing the Facebook binge. Then, with mindful awareness, give myself permission to make a self-care decision, starting now.)
In mindful breathing practice, the opportunity to "begin again" is presented each time the attention wanders away from the breath. In mindful living, the opportunity to "begin again" is presented each time we stray from our deepest intentions. Thank you for joining me on this journey toward deeper, more fulfilling living.
May 2019 be a year in which the wisdom and clarity you've gained from the past inform many new beginnings.