New Year Musings
“Do not try to save the world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then, will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue.” – Martha Postlethwaite
January. The start of the calendar year. Isn’t it interesting how many of us can viscerally feel the experience of a new beginning at this time of year which ultimately is just a random date created long ago by our predecessors? And how some of us use that experience to take stock and sometimes avow to adapt, begin or end a habit or behaviour that we wish to change. I think New Year resolutions are admirable and have a purpose but for me, they seem to come from a place of mental will. In addition, they often involve a sense of deprivation or lack rather than an enhancement of something. Dry January, a new diet plan or quitting smoking are good examples. And I have often found that resolutions don’t always lead to embodied lasting change because they come solely from the space of mind.
For this reason, I stopped making New Year resolutions some time ago but instead I like to draw on the idea of intention and manifestation. To set an intention with a view to manifest something that I want to bring into my life. Which can be done at any time of year. The words above taken from the poem “Clearing” by Martha Postlethwaite echo this beautifully. I find intention setting is much more gentle and heart based than the cerebral process of resolution. For example, the resolution to quit smoking instead becomes envisioning and nurturing an internalized image of oneself as a non smoker with all the positive effects that this brings. And then to hold an intention of literally ‘becoming’ that person. Intention setting enhances our life rather than detracting from it. And if the intention comes from the heart as well as the mind, it is more likely to be realized.
This idea has served me well several times in my life. The biggest example is when several years ago, I decided to take a sabbatical from my career as a therapist. And I had no idea of what I would be doing during that time. The reactions of those around me were interesting. They ranged from encouragement, envy and deep anxiety. A question I was often asked was ‘but what are you going to do?’ and my reply of ‘I don’t know but I need the space to find out’ didn’t seem to alleviate their anxious thoughts.
Trust in the Universe
And inevitably I experienced anxious moments myself too. The option of having so much empty time was both exhilarating and highly daunting. I genuinely had no plan. My usual habit of trying to control things was surrendered. Instead I sat and meditated twice daily and began to really cultivate my trust in the Universe. My trust in that things would reveal themselves to me when the time was right if I just held an open space and allowed them to surface. And I can honestly say that this is what happened. Gradually over several weeks, the seed of an idea was planted in my mind and took root. Tiny at first, it grew and sprouted and once I began to share it with a couple of trusted people in my life, it grew further as if it was being watered and fed by their responses. Until eventually it became a fully formed idea which led to me creating a plan. And so off I went to India to train as a Yoga teacher. The weeks I spent there were some of the happiest, best weeks of my life. It was a truly transformational experience not because of the qualification I gained – it took me several months to build up the confidence to offer classes in a studio – but because of the experience itself. Because of the deeper connection I had with my own practice and with those around me sharing in the practice of Yoga for an intense few weeks.
The evolution that has arisen from this first step to where I am today eleven years later leaves me feeling very blessed. As a teacher and a Yoga therapist for mental health I have integrated these offerings into my therapeutic work leading to a whole body, holistic approach that I feel serves my clients well. I now blend psychotherapy with Yoga, teach online classes and the most recent idea for the Serene Sunday retreats I offer came from this place of envisioning, intention setting and manifesting.
I don’t think I would have found my way to where I am today without deciding to make space. To allow myself the opportunity to have faith in the creative energy that flows through us all. I am not suggesting that everyone needs to take a sabbatical; I know I was extremely fortunate to be able to do so. But I wonder, if we were all able to turn inwards on a daily basis, even for a short while, what would manifest? So many of us want to ‘change the world’ and as an optimist I have to believe that this can happen. Slowly and over time. But surely if that desire comes from a place where heart and mind are connected, it is more likely to be realized and anything can happen.