Nearing a new year can stir up a mixed emotional bag of hopefulness and anxiety. After the rush of the celebratory countdown and the lull of post-party recovery, a sense of urgency may follow. Perhaps, as I’ve done in the past, a cloud of guilt and dissatisfaction storms in with the demands of New Year’s Resolutions, driven by self-judgment. Personal development is fundamental, but when laced with condemning should’s and shouldn’t's, this mindset can easily lure you into self defeat.
Instead, what about exploring ways to shed the social conditioning of not being enough and not having enough? What about practicing ways to remember that vibrant wellbeing, peace and abundance are your true nature? If a fulfilling life journey is marked by moments of wholeheartedly expressing your true nature (your inherent state of pure love and wholeness), how about stepping into the New Year with intention and mindfulness as a means of unveiling that?
Here are five ways:
1. Take a reflective pause.
Amidst the year-end sales, winter weather, family gatherings and socials, carve out a moment for yourself to connect with your inner being. This moment could be 20 minutes on a silent nature walk in your neighborhood, unplugging from internet devices and intently seeing, hearing and smelling the natural world around you. This moment could be having a meal in solitude, simply breathing, tasting, smelling and appreciating healthy nourishment. If you'd like to be guided through a reflective pause in nature, consider joining this afternoon mini-retreat on January 30 in a magical garden in Ojai, CA.
2. Connect with your intuition.
Find your personal way to surrender to creative flow. Write stream-of-consciousness style in your journal with your timer on for 5 minutes. Engage in an art activity you enjoy for the sake of immersing playfully in the present moment. Allow yourself time to fantasize your answer to this question: If anything is possible, what new adventure does my soul wish to embark on this year? Connect wholeheartedly to the joy of possibility.
3. Ground in “what is.”
Just as it is important to play and befriend your imagination, living intentionally entails self-awareness and understanding areas needing healing or growth. Truthfully assess the state of different aspects of your life, such as finances, relationship to self, relationship to family, work life, physical health, mental well being, sense of spiritual connection, recreation and hobbies. What do you currently spend most of your time and energy on? With non-judgment, notice if this aligns with what’s important to you.
Depending on your processing style, consider creating a pie chart, journaling or discussing this with a trusted friend. Celebrate areas in your life in which you feel successful or have made progress in. Pinpoint areas where you would like to create a conscious shift and consider listing actions to take to move forward on our journey. Avoid overwhelming yourself with too many items on your list by perhaps choosing a theme for your year ahead and starting with basic doable steps.
4. Commit to connecting to your joy and inspiration daily.
Decide on your personal values that you feel devoted to as you step into the New Year. What daily practice can you do, no matter how small, that connects you to what you love and care deeply about? For example, if you are devoted to feeling and being healthy, what action can you take first thing each morning that contributes to your feeling of wellbeing? Perhaps, before opening your eyes each morning, begin with the thought: Today, I’m grateful for… Use this to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to spark joy at the start of your day. Consider starting 28 days of guided daily physical yoga, skillful breathing and meditation for 10-20 minutes using Daily Yoga Habit.
5. Create the space for what you invite.
Whatever your intentions may be for the New Year, does anything need to be de-cluttered or released in order to allow yourself to be open for what you’re calling in? If you’re choosing to focus on a healthy lifestyle, scan your home for any items that may not serve this intention. Consider donating them. Are there old beliefs that no longer serve your wellbeing or the wellbeing of your relationships? Consider ways to address them at their roots and finding resources and tools, such as therapy or mindfulness meditations, to help you move through areas where you may feel stuck or energetically blocked.
Here’s a 5-step guided mindfulness practice for transforming negative thoughts, derived from Dr. Henry Grayson in his book, Mindful Loving: 10 Practices for Creating Deeper Connections. As Yogi Sri T. Krishnamacharya said, “Yoga is a process of replacing old patterns with new and more appropriate patterns.” With self-compassion and mindfulness, notice the ways you can allow space for what you’re inviting into your life in the New Year.
It’s essential to remember that these practices are a continuous process, not a one-off. Our human journey is filled with seasons and cycles of feeling blissful and encountering challenges to awaken our continued expansion of consciousness and everything in between. Let the new year serve as among the many times of the year when you reassess, reflect, realign, celebrate, release, forgive, allow grace and keep flowing. Use the consistency of your mindfulness and intention-setting practices to strengthen your ability to ground in clarity and express your true nature in your most expansive uniqueness.
This New Year, let’s celebrate that we’re both a masterpiece and a work in progress!
Author Michelle Chua
Michelle Chua has been facilitating yoga since 2010 and loves sharing her passion for living the practice off the mat, especially by starting each morning with that intention. Daily Yoga Habit is her new online offering that starts January 1, 2022 for 28 days. Learn more...
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REviews of Root 2 Rise Yoga:
Michelle truly lives out what she teaches. She is so much more than a yoga teacher - I learned this when I went on her exquisitely curated trip that she organized to Costa Rica this past June 2018...Hopefully like me, you'll be delighted by her effervescent love of movement, nature, and all people!
Michelle clearly stands out with her beautiful and bright energy. I love how her practice and teaching encompass body, mind and spirit. She not only teaches yoga but lives and exudes it.
Michelle not only teaches 'yoga', she embodies it fully with her heart and soul...
Michelle is by far one of the best instructors I've ever had, period. Patient, clear in her explanations and demos, and so encouraging...
My first yoga class was with Michelle years ago. You can have the best (yoga pose) sequence and not teach from your heart. With Michelle, I also feel her passion when I'm in her class. I can see she loves what she does, and she inspired me to want to teach yoga, too.
I’ve had dozens of instructors over the years, but Michelle is far and away the best yoga mentor I’ve ever practiced with. She epitomizes grace during these difficult times. Michelle has saved my sanity and my back while working from home, keeping me grounded with her sharing of yogic teachings and meditation techniques. Her repertoire of physical asanas is encyclopedic, and I’ve loved learning new poses and stretching my boundaries. Jump in, all. You’ve got this!
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