As I was driving to teach Yoga at Moffat Beach this morning it dawned on me ~ wow its not only the last Saturday class for the year but for the decade! So often we can be on to the next thing before we know it or before we have given due diligence to all that has been and gone. The trend is to bounce into setting goals before we have even had a chance to reflect on what was great about today, this year or the past ten years.
Without genuine time in reflection our goals can be driven by the never ending chase of wanting to get what we want so we can finally be happy. Without time spent in reflecting we can miss an opportunity for our gratitude to ripen and become a part of our fabric , part of how we perceive the world . Sometimes our never-ending striving habits can even get in the way of doing the things that bring us the most joy or that are good for us.
Giving yourself time as part of the ritual of yoga (“union” which means to integrate or to ‘make whole) to reflect on all that you have accomplished over the last ten years can actually help us with our goals for the future. It’s easy to get caught up in the endless addiction of do more, achieve more , to give more to get the rewards. But what is the reward you are seeking?
A good question to ask before making big and bold steps toward your goals is What is it that you want , from getting what you want?
Often people come to do Mentoring in Yoga or Mindfulness because they want to improve, learn and grow. There is an underlying desire to serve or a feeling that there is something holding them back from reaching their full potential. Having support and guidance to achieve goals is valid. We generally get a hit of feel good chemicals when we achieve a goal. But this may not help with self worth if your perception of the world is being tainted by certain beliefs you hold about yourself. It makes sense that there is the perception that getting what you want (achieving your goals) will make you happy. Although this does bring temporary joy into our lives the real value lies in what you are learning in the process itself. (Often we don’t stop to reflect on this) Are we training our mind to appreciate the path not just the rewards?
Yoga (beyond the physical practice) ultimately creates behaviour change. Not only do we learn how and why the mind does what it does , we can be introduced to practical exercises (for the body and the mind) that can ultimately give us a better perspective. Perspective shifts is what creates change in behaviour, our thoughts and believe it or not this has the biggest impact on how our physicality responds. Learning how to change our perspective can be our greatest ally when it comes to managing our energy so we can direct it toward the things that matter most in life. A healthy perspective becomes the fuel for our goals and creating abundance. (love)
In yoga there is the story of Laskshmi which signifies abundance ~ I vaguely remember hearing a story being told in a Yoga Class during my time in Lake Tahoe and although I cannot remember the exact sequence of events, I do recall that all of the goodness that Lakshmi brings got taken away because it was not appreciated. As a consequence there had to be a lot of effort and discipline to bring Lakshmi back so she could give her gifts of abundance & prosperity.
Apparently as the story goes it took one thousand years for her to come back (to rise out of the ocean) but she did eventually return. Sometimes it does take a jolt in life to realise what we have. It also may take years, even decades to create the life that once upon a time we dreamed about! The never ending chase or grass is greener syndrome can kick in when there is fear or when self care practices get put to the side. We can be more easily triggered. I heard a scientist once say that a cell cannot move toward something and away from it at the same time. We are no different. It’s hard for us to give to this world, to appreciate abundance if we are running away. Running away can be in the form of always trying to get more (while we are doing this we cannot fully be with what we have got)
Before we jump into setting our 2020 goals in order to bring “more” abundance (in what ever form you view that as) , perhaps it is worthwhile to reflect on all the moments over the last decade that helped you feel good. For me its often the simplest of things. Like today at yoga class watching the white cockatoos come and join us and pick the seeds off the tree look down and release them onto the yoga students . Watching yogis laugh the more and more seeds that landed on them and their mats . The birds gazing down, tilting their heads to the side, throwing even more little seeds onto the students, when it came time to relax in savasana. Once the class was finished they promptly flew away.
Making time for our yoga can help us train for those times in life when things feel like they are getting thrown at us. It can teach us we do actually have a choice, to move, to stay and enjoy what you learn in the process. It can teach us about nature (inner and outer) and nurture (our ability to self care) Regular time in reflection is part of nurturing (even if that is laying down under a tree looking up at cockatoos as they drop their little seed bombs (and other bombs apparently;) It can help us keep a healthy perspective. It can help us look at life with wonderment and less fear. It can help us set boundaries. Although it may not prevent you from getting shat on every now and again, it can help you see this is ‘nature’ and all the more reason we need to nurture!!
Here’s a little Entree of “Nurture” before setting your Goals for the New Year
Close your eyes , take a deep breath.
As you begin to extend your exhalations
Notice the skin soften and rest your chest.
Listen to the sounds furtherest away
The ocean within your breath,
The sounds of the day
Now bring that same attention up nice and close
Relax your hips like soft cloth and feel the breath through the nose
Like a movie reel being played across the lens of the heart
See the moments of these past ten years
Ones that helped you feel good, places, people or having the courage to make a new start
Feeling good has a big spectrum from feeling happy or belly laughing with tears
To joy and excitement from a day well spent
To moments of simplicity of ease and content
It’s normal for the mind to latch onto moments which represent
The flip side to joy , the ones we may resent.
That’s just the negativity bias of the brain doing its thing
It’s why we practice meditation and refocusing
As you let your memory offer you moments in time
That gave you a little uplift a feeling of lightness , or being on the receiving end of kind
It’s the simple things that are the big wins , you can feel it from your head to your toes
You begin to realise gratitude with how your breath flows
Let this nectar of abundance be felt in your skin
Gratitude is not what you get but what you give
It creates a feeling from within
For me being under the (self imposed) pump
Can make gratitude at times feel out of reach
These are little speed bumps
Reminders to practice what I preach
When you achieve a goal
To become wiser, a better parent, partner, lover or to do your very best
It’s realising the person you are becoming in this whole life process
This is what will truly nourish your soul
This is the real test, to move from dis-ease to feeling whole.
It’s showing up fully, knowing there are no guarantees
That the outcome will go the way we want
But with faith comes the ease.
The real lasting value is not having achieved the goal
But the person you became in the process
Truth be told.
Sometimes we don’t detect our own growth as its seemingly small
That’s why reflection is important, look back on it all
Remember how many times over this decade you got up from the falls.
We are too busy sometimes , always striving , but do we see
There’s been many experiences in ten years that have helped create ‘me’
Take time to celebrate not only achieving many goals
But honour the person you have become in the process
It’s a form of self respect and self belief that gives back to your soul.
Without a doubt you have discovered many things
Over the last ten years
You reached goals, spread your wings
No doubt you’ve conquered some fears
Of course there’s been some tough times
But for sure , moments of bliss
There’s so many opportunities to be grateful
This breath , this ocean , just this , just this
Reflect on all those moments you leant a helping hand
To people you know and perfect strangers
A listening ear to understand
You just ‘being’ there can make someone else’s day
Take time to acknowledge this , don’t let the negativity bias get in the way
Take the heels of your hands to touch
Open & point all ten fingers up
Each representing a year of the decade that you have grown very much
Let this lotus mudra remind you, you have a full cup
Happiness from achieving the goal is not what lasts
Focus on the person you became in these ten years that have passed.
Who you became in the process of achieving your goals
Take time to reflect, and acknowledge you are whole
Now lay down for a moment and let your whole body rest
Lotus Mudra opening , each finger like branches into the lungs across the chest
Trust that in these last ten years you have done your very best
When you have let this appreciation run through your veins
Be grateful for all you have learnt , for all you have gained.
It is not the end result that holds the gold
It’s who you have become in the process of living life
Truth be told.
As you role onto your side
Slowly open your eyes
Congratulate yourself for taking time to
Trust the time spent in reflection will strengthen your goals
Let them come from a place of realising
You are already whole
What would you focus on if you had the belief that you already have a life well made
Perhaps the focus would be gratitude
Thankful to all of you who have shared the practice of Yoga on and off the mat over the last decade and more . Enjoy your break with some gratitude practice.
Mentoring Programs for 2020 open for registration – firstname.lastname@example.org