Another year has begun and we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves around this time. Mindfulness teacher, Clare McLusky, invites us to take a step back and contemplate what brings us joy…
January is traditionally a time when we set ourselves New Year Resolutions. The media is full of advice to help us address our fitness level, nutrition, love life, work or whatever goals we may have. We may already be on an alcohol-free month or trying out Veganuary. But what if we paused a while from all this doing, improving ourselvesand being conditioned by societal expectations of how we should be. What if we sat down in silence and contemplated what is it that really brings us joy, wakes us up excited in the morning, really matters to us in our lives? Or as Joseph Campbell puts it what is it that makes us feel the rapture of being alive?
“I don’t think people are really seeking a meaning for life. I think we’re seeking an experience of being alive…we want to feel the rapture of being alive”
It is all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget what is important to us. Being plunged into a cancer diagnosis and treatment maybe a wakeup call but is just as likely, particularly with long and debilitating treatments, to be so all consuming that we forget even the small things we enjoyed in the past.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford ~
I love this poem. We all have our own thread, our own way of staying connected to ourselves, those around us and the world. Reconnecting with our thread can help us through the most difficult and challenging times of our lives guiding us to courageously take one step after the other on this journey through life.
So, I invite you to spend some time contemplating this over the next few weeks, perhaps following some of the ideas below: –
Create space. Carve out some regular time to be with yourself and do something you find nourishing. Walking is a wonderful way to allow the mind to settle and focus as is a long, relaxing bath or listening to music. If possible, allow the next few weeks to be quieter, both in terms of activities and technology. Turn off the radio and TV, unplug the devices.
Be curious. Take time to notice what effect the things you do and consume have on you. This not only includes what you eat and drink but what you read, listen to and watch and the people you spend time with. Notice how you feel in your body, mind and emotions. Notice what nourishes you and what drains or depletes you. You may choose to spend a few moments before going to sleep reflecting on the day.
Remember gratitude. Don’t forget to bring gratitude in. Have a look at my previous blog on gratitude and choose to do a daily gratitude practice, simply recalling the things you are grateful for at the end of each day. This can be enormously powerful in difficult times, moving us from despair to hopefulness, as we begin to see again that there are always things to be grateful for.
Care for yourself. Having spent some time being curious about how activities effect you, it will be clearer what self-care means for you. It may be turning the TV off earlier and getting a good night’s sleep, preparing healthy, delicious food or meeting friends regularly. Don’t confuse self-care with self-indulgence. Caring for ourselves requires time and effort and not only helps us but those around us.
You know what’s best for you. You might like to spend some time contemplating the following questions: –
Write your answers down, to remind yourself as time goes by.
So, Happy New Year to you and hold onto your thread!