My loathing of New Year’s resolutions is probably in direct proportion to my consistent lack of success with them in the past—the distant past.
I haven’t avowed any new year proclamations or transformations for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I have developed my own rituals for celebrating this time where big people get to silently scream, “Do over!” and we allow ourselves to hit the reset button.
I feel some alliteration coming on . . . so, instead of “resolutions,” my rituals involve reflection, re-focusing, renewal, remembering, reclamation, reconnection, and revision. It’s an “R” thing I guess. I’m not sure I resolve anything, but I have found that taking time out each year to reflect helps to set a positive tone for the next 365 trips around the sun.
Here’s how it goes most years . . .
I take a week or two at the end of the year (which is easy to do because of the other holidays that precede the New Year’s stuff) and do a deep surrender of everything—all my petty plans and earthly goals. I consciously try NOT to make plans about work or travel or family or personal goals. I stick to healthy routines as best I can and pick up my meditation time a LOT. I ask for additional spiritual guidance on what I need to focus on for my highest good, rather than try to dictate what I think it should be.
A higher perspective always yields far more insight than I could ever possibly achieve in my physically-focused, ego-driven mind. I find that writing reveals even more interesting surprises, and I highly recommend doing some serious journaling during this type of reflective timeout.
When my mind wants to “figure it all out” and starts to plot and plan (which it always does), I have to pull it back and gently remind it (my mind, as if it were a puppy on crack sometimes) that we aren’t doing that right now and give it something else to chew on. My goal is to be as present as possible between bouts of reflection—thus staying out of the future (planning).
The world and the people in it sometimes try to convince me that this is not a good idea and I need to “strategize” and plan and visualize and all kinds of important things. And my answer is, yes, but not until I’m done with the reflection bit. I have to gain some clarity on where I’ve been and get a higher perspective on what’s next before I can do any type of effective strategizing, visualizing, and/or (ultimately) manifesting. Patience, grasshopper.
How do you practice reflection?
Once I’ve given myself the gift of time and space to reflect and gain some perspective on my current reality—that tricky beast that’s enhanced by spiritual practice and mindfulness, or warped by being too embedded in the earthly drama—it’s a constant battle of balance and the cliche of keeping my feet rooted here on this earth and my mind in the proverbial clouds of higher perspectives. I fail frequently, but I keep at it, and wallow as long as I can in the balance when it happens. I suspect that in some cruel spiritual scheme we decided it would be no fun to be in balance all the time. Heavy sigh.
Regardless of my state of perfect balance, I’ve learned one thing about manifesting anything—whether a change in behavior, shift in perspective, or creating cash flow—whatever we focus on tends to become reality. I’m not going to try and explain this one as there are those that do a far better job than me—Abraham Hicks, The Lotus and the Lily, The Secret, and many other variations on this theme.
So, once I get some clarity on what is, I can begin to visualize what’s next. What do I want to manifest in this coming year? Probably not sickness, debt, drama, etc. In order to avoid manifesting these fun challenges, I have to constantly re-focus my mind (remember the puppy on crack?). I have a tendency to get caught up in the rat-wheel of worry, doubt, anxiety, and fear, which leads NOWHERE, but exhausts me. My biggest challenge is to say “no” to these thoughts and replace them with positive concepts like gratitude, joy, love… and when all else fails, just shut it all down and be present with WHATEVER is going on and invite spirit to help shine some light on the moment.
It helps me to create some simple affirmations based on my recent reflections that re-direct my puppy mind from destructive thoughts to more productive thoughts like the stuff I want to manifest. I can say these little affirmations or mantras quietly in my head or out loud or write on sticky notes and decorate my little world with them until they become new neuropathways to change. I do this until I’m spending far more time in my mind on what I want to see and create rather than all the crazy rationalizations why I can’t. Stuff is like magic. Really. Try it on something simple for 30 days and see what happens.
What helps you re-focus your attention?
[read my post “Musings From a Midlife Green Diva“… it might be relevant]
As I skim the surface of this world trying to get it all done (whatever “it” is), I tend to forget what’s important. My heart mission seems to be blotted out by the gravity and density of this planet. I forget what I’ve learned over the years about who I am, what makes my little light shine bright. I need to remember and get deeply honest with myself about how well I’m taking care of this true self.
This, of course, is different for each of us. We’re all at varying stages of understanding our true selves and what our mission—should we choose to accept it—is here in this particular earth plane. Wherever you are in this soul-searching-knowing, learn more, go further, and expand on this human experience. Then, as you remember what you already know, it will become clear where you need to place your attention to grow or change or take action or whatever.
Meditation, nature, journaling, laughing, yoga, reading something meaningful or well-written, experiencing great art, holding babies, playing in the garden, talking to animals, a tender kiss, a tragic moment, sappy movies… these things evoke remembering for me. They bring me to the present in a way that reminds me of what’s real, enduring love… and the rest—the fear, the doubt, the drama—drifts into the fog.
Whatever works for you. Do it. Take stock as you remember and you’ll know what you need to do to make this next year rock.
What helps you remember what is important at your core?
I don’t know about you, but my world is a busy one—some of it meaningful and productive, more of it manufactured silliness. It’s taken me a half century to begin to understand energy conservation, and to be clear I’m not talking about electricity, but finding ways to keep my personal energy at a sustainable level. Whether it was being a mother (and a single mother for a few years) of three girls or just my personality perhaps, I have a tendency to work in unregulated fits and bursts. These fits and bursts tend to lead me to a low point, where I’m always shocked and the last to know just how burned out I am. Again with this balance thing!? I’m slowly discovering my own rhythm and how to swing, jive, and sway like a dance marathon, rather than the deadly Elaine dance.
[Watch this target="_blank">Chakra Balancing Meditation
target="_blank">Chakra Balancing Meditationled by Rainbeau Mars]
Making room in your world for retreat and renewal is critical to sustain your personal energy flow. I have some strategies for making this happen in the course of a day, but creating a string of days where I retreat from the din and chaos to “do” or “be” less in the busy world is an absolute necessity for this green diva. The end of the year is one of those times where I specifically work on renewing my energy and recharging my inner batteries, which goes well with the reflective time mentioned above.
Renewal for me also means renewing commitments I have to myself. Like affirming those little and big agreements about how I interact with myself. For me it’s about less fear and doubt, more yoga, better choices in food, being the best wife, mother, Ya Ya, sister, friend, etc.
How do you find time to renew your energy / recharge your inner batteries?
What commitments to yourself do you want to renew?
In this process, I always realize there are parts of me that I lose touch with. I neglect playful Inner Meg, and although I write way too many words in emails and social media posts, my creative writing muscles atrophy a bit. So, I like to take stock of the parts of me that I need to reclaim, and visualize a plan for working them back into my consciousness.
There can also be toxic relationships that siphon off tiny bits of our soul. This is a great time to inventory relationships and reclaim your power in any that aren’t nourishing you, and find ways to lovingly take appropriate actions, if any.
What parts of yourself have been dormant or what relationships need balancing, and what are you going to do to reclaim them?
I’m perpetually in need of reconnection—reconnection to myself, my higher self, my spiritual source (which may be different than yours), nature, the good in the world, my family, what makes my heart sparkle, etc. Yea, I’m not talking about the addiction to my digital connections here. They have their place these devices of constant communication, but this is not what I’m about here.
I have little daily rituals that help me maintain my connections to the things that feed my soul. There's a 20-minute guided meditation I was inspired to record. I was shocked I could listen to it and not just enjoy it, but it always does the trick for me!
What helps you reconnect to your inner power source?
A few of years ago, Kristin Ace gave me a book called The Lotus and the Lily. I resisted because I was familiar with the concept, which is similar to this process I’m writing about here, but she was gently persistent and I decided to give it a try. Like my own rituals, it happens at the end of the year, but goes into great detail and the author has a lovely way of leading you into some deep preparation for the coming year. But one of the things I’ve added since following the book mentioned above, is that at the end of the journey culminates in the creation of a vision board.
My daughters and I started doing vision boards years ago one rainy Mother’s Day and I’ve been enjoying doing these over the years, but these special New Year ones have a beautiful way of articulating a vision of the 365 ahead.
Instead of telling the universe/god/spirit/whatever what you “want” to manifest for the coming year, the goal here is to work through this inner journey, making space to not only invite new things in, but to discover what we really “need.”
I’ve always been surprised, because my ego says, “I know what I need!” but so often after doing this kind of ritual, there are subtle, sometimes shocking things that jump out and want attention. Thus the vision board in this instance is a tool for creating a visual reference to the work I’ve done to uncover what my soul is truly itching for. Plus, I love getting creative and crafty, which I just don’t do enough. I’ve begun doing this with my daughters and close friends. We get together around New Year’s, meditate, and have a creative play date complete with yummy food.
What is your vision for the year? How would you create a visual representation?
However you do it, I hope you are able to give the gift of time and space to do whatever works for you, whatever helps you rediscover your love-lit path towards an awesome 2018.