Does anyone else find these few days between Christmas and New Year a bit of a funny time? The ‘it’s Christmas’ excuse is beginning to wear a little thin when it comes to all the excesses of the festive season and yet normalcy has not yet fully returned.
However much I try to stop myself over-indulging, ruminating and planning ahead, trying instead to just ‘be’ with my family, there are times when my mind is way off into the month of January and I’m mentally putting together my ‘to do list’ for the year ahead.
Certainly January brings all the thoughts of ‘new year’s resolutions’ to the fore. On the one hand I hate resolutions. After all aren’t they often just setting us up for failure?
And if something’s worth doing, why wait until January to set about it?
Added to these hesitations that I already have, mindfulness is all about trying our best to live in the present. So whilst resolving to do things for the next few months in advance, we are in danger of missing the good that is in our lives right now. A sentiment beautifully illustrated by a clip I regularly show students from Kung Fu Panda when introducing them to mindfulness.
And yet human nature means that our mind IS constantly jumping around from one topic to another and from the past to the future.
And so this makes being entirely in the present a challenge. A challenge which is especially great at this time of year when we start to reflect on the past and set intentions for the future.
Maybe that’s why I find these few days tricky. Our minds are being dragged away from the present to the past, and to the future, and so anxiety levels rise as a result.
So what to do?
Reconnecting with what’s around me in a particular moment works for me. Becoming more in tune with my senses once more. As I’m typing this the tap on the keyboard captures my attention as does the sound of a plane flying overhead. I also start to feel my feet on the bed (don’t ask – I’m blogging in bed – I know that’s bad!). And so I start to mentally go through the checklist of my senses:
…and this brings me right back to the present.
Writing reflections and intentions down – as specifically and precisely as possible so they aren’t as vague as resolutions – is also a good way to stop these invasive thoughts distracting us.
So here goes:
Reflecting on 2016:
Obviously this could be a thesis in terms of global news. But in terms of little ole’ me…
- We have had some lovely days out as a family. Visiting places like Emmett’s Garden, Margate, Peppa Pig World and the Horniman Musesum to name but a few. And though these may not sound like much, this is no mean feat with toddler twins and another. When you’re outnumbered the temptation to not venture too far is great.
- I set up the blog and this is my 50th post.
- I qualified to teach Mindfulness to young people and began teaching courses in both a secondary school and a primary school.
Setting intentions for 2017:
- I really want to try to spend more 1-2-1 time with each of the children by organising more trips for just me and one other.
- I would love to increase the readership of the blog by writing guest posts for other blogs so that more people learn about mindfulness.
- I hope to train to teach mindfulness to adults in the workplace, to complete the two courses I am currently running in the two school and to go into at least one more school in order to continue to expose more young people to mindful ideas.
Self-care will also be a priority – and I hope it will be yours too.
What does this mean for me? Well I will extend my own formal meditation practice in the coming months from 15 minutes most days to fitting a couple of longer meditations of about 20 – 30 minutes in to a week as well as continuing the regular shorter practices.
Oh and I will start running again…as soon as the physio gives me the okay (that’s another story).
That’s it… I aimed for 3 specific intentions and have 5. Enough is enough. I’m in danger of over-whelming myself if I’m not careful.
And this is the challenge we should all be mindful of in the days and weeks ahead.
Living in the past and the future can be overwhelming.
Much better to stay in the present.
What would your top 3 intentions be for 2017?
How will you prioritise self-care?
Good luck and wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.