On New Year’s day, waiting for the household to wake, I opened up Facebook like I do most mornings. I stumbled upon a post by Omar Gomez and wanted to share these perfectly timed words. Omar created the Rainforest Healing Retreat in Iquitos Peru, which I was fortunate to visit in 2016.
When my husband woke we spoke about Omar’s post and he reminded me of something we had been speaking about as part of my ongoing mindfulness practice. That is, to recognise when I need to pause and start again, which is a beautiful self-compassion exercise.
This means checking in with myself to understand how actions (internal or external) and emotions are affecting me by pausing before I choose to react. Most of the time it’s saying internally, “Oh, I notice this is making me feel angry, or uptight, or overemotional”, letting it go and pulling me back to a secure focus on the present.
Therefore my intention for 2018 is to pause. Pause, yes, simply pause to allow myself to become more mindful.
This was passed on to me from my yoga teacher. It’s a great read, and a great way to start the year. I have quoted Omar’s post in full.
New Year’s is often a time to create resolutions. To “fix”, change, or improve ourselves, to become better and happier. However, in resolution setting, we tend to degrade the essential wisdom that the journey of yoga is not one of “fixing” ourselves, but rather one of reconnecting with our inherently exquisite selves – our wholeness. Thus, I have long approached New Year’s resolution setting as an intention-setting opportunity.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines intention as “a determination to act in a certain way: resolve. What one intends to do or bring about”. But also as “a process or manner of healing of wounds.”
Many spiritual traditions offer rituals to help us create conditions for this level of clarity and healing. These rituals often begin with practices that ask us to reflect on behaviour and choice made over the year – to review any regrets, mistakes, or challenges. A process intended to be a learning opportunity, so wounds can be healed and old habits and unhelpful behaviours are less likely to be repeated.
As we stop living life as a serious of habitual reactions or from old storylines, we can become more deliberate about how we want to approach or participate in whatever each moment presents. We can choose more thoughtful and caring responses. This ups the odds that we will experience our wholeness and well-being.
In fact, we can begin our personal practice each day with an intention: “May I recognise when I need to pause and start again”. This is essential because we can be hijacked at any moment by the disappointment of fear, or get sucked up into busyness, routine, or our iPhone.
This is at the heart of yoga and meditation practices; we are learning that we always have the choice about how we step into the moment. This is one of the significant gifts of our practice. Because the stress in our lives may not go away, it may not change. But how we respond to it – and more importantly, how it affects us – can change. The more often we pause and set an intention, the easier it becomes to make wise choices. And then the easier it is to do it again.
Thich Nhat Hahn teaches, “We can only take care of the future by taking care of the present because the future is made out of only one substance; the present.”
Within the New Year, may you take some time to set your personal intentions? May you pause to connect with your higher-self and remember you are already whole. And then, may you do it, again and again, all year round.
PEOPLE ON THE BEACH – NEW YEAR INTENTIONS
photocredit: Steve Doig