A Season to Go InwardDec 27, 2022
This time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere) is a time to slow down, hibernate, and to reconnect with ourselves…
Yet, the new year is also a time where we feel called to take action, to commit to resolutions, and make plans for our future. As a result, we can experience some internal confusion.
What does this time of year mean to you? Especially in the face of not being able to decide which path you’re going to choose — the one of parenthood or the one of living childfree.
My guess is that you’d like the year to unfold toward a decision one way or the other — or at least moving forward in your life with a plan and not staying stuck in indecision.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t, exactly. Resolution is too rigid a word for me and stops me in my tracks the moment I think about something I must accomplish — and this can feel like failure. I immediately feel challenged in a way that doesn’t feel motivating. So, I’d rather think about this time of year as an opportunity to reflect, and a time to slow down and turn inward.
Give yourself the gift of contemplation and forget about resolutions (unless you really like them). Even though being still and contemplative is quite natural for some, it isn’t for all. It’s not just about being in deep thought but about being in deep quiet so the thoughts can come to you without you going to them.
I like to think about what feels inspiring to me and what intentions I want to have. How do I want the year to unfold and what do I need to do to accomplish that? What part will I play in the unfolding? How do I want to feel by the end of the year? I try to imagine that feeling in my body so I can internalize it.
This time of year, I suggest spending time going out of your way to quiet your mind. I’m not even suggesting meditation (although that is a fine practice). Maybe this is a type of meditation, but I’d rather call it contemplation because you are not trying to keep the thoughts at bay — you want them to come to you gently in the quiet.
Below are several ways you can help create internal spaciousness while also helping you slow down. Then you get to decide if you want to make New Year’s Resolutions or Intentions or Aspirations — how you want 2023 to unfold.
If this is new to you, the practice can be as simple as sitting tall with good posture, your feet on the ground, and closing your eyes. Just this alone allows you to shut down your frontal cortex — the thinking part of your brain. Let the quiet begin.
Focusing on the breath is a good place to start. For those that have a hard time sitting quietly, writing what comes to mind helps as well. Anything that will help you disengage from the angst you’re feeling at that moment.
In this quiet — with your inside and outside noise quieted down — you can be with your true self. We need this to find refuge from the many distractions in our lives. Even though it’s so natural to quiet down, it has become an effort in the face of all the buzz around us. But a little effort can go a long way. Sit quietly and breathe for 3 to 5 minutes.
One writing assignment I enjoy is making a journal entry dated one year in the future.
For example, for December or January 2023, you can write something like: “As I look back on this past year, I’m delighted to notice…”
Imagine that it is one year from today and you are looking back over the last year as a sort of year in review — but this time you’re only going to focus on what feels good or what you are pleased about.
Then, without much thinking beforehand, start writing. After you’ve written for as long as you’d like — it’s fine to set a timer for 5 minutes and if you want more time then simply extend the timer — breathe again.
Walk away for 10 minutes and then come back to what you’ve written and read it out loud to hear how it sounds.
When used together, these exercises help create internal spaciousness so that your inner guidance can lead you and new thoughts can come forward. Take some time during this annual transition to try these exercises and go inward — you might be surprised (and delighted!) by what you find.