It’s January first, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the next 364 days, but before we leap headlong into 2014, lets take a quiet moment to reflect, set our intentions, and welcome the new year. Setting your intentions is a simple but powerful practice that will help you shape your life according to your true inner wisdom and values.
I’ve modified the centering practice I use at the beginning of yoga classes to be used as a New Year ritual. You can use this short practice every day or expand on it with your own variations for a more personalized practice any time you are setting new goals.
First, find a comfortable seat — any way that you can sit upright with minimal effort or strain is fine.
Close your eyes, relax, and take your awareness inside. Feel what it’s like to be in your skin right now. Take note of how you’re feeling physically and mentally. Do not judge. Simply observe.
Next, take your awareness to the breath. Relax the belly and mentally trace the path of the breath as it enters and exits the body. Notice where the breath moves freely and where it encounters resistance. You may find resistance in the jaw, throat, chest, or belly. Any place where the body is holding on to tension or work of any kind, make it your intention to soften and let go.
Bring the awareness back to the breath. Spend a minute or two (or several if you can maintain focus) watching the breath and honing your focus. Let go of all extraneous thoughts.
Now, ask yourself: What have I come here to do? What could I give to myself? What could I give to the world?
Whatever answer comes up, whatever form it takes, allow this to be your intention for now. This may last the year or maybe just for one day. You may wish to write down your intention or create a symbol to remind you of it — perhaps a piece of jewelry or something as simple as a sticky note you’ll see every day.
Revisit your intention often. If it continues to serve you and be in your best interest, you can carry this same intention forever. At some point, it may become clear that a new intention is appropriate for you, and at that point you’ll change it.
Trust in your inner guru. Trust that within you is a light and a wisdom that guides you. This wisdom is based in the ultimate truth of the universe, the divine fact of your existence. It is pure, without morality or judgement. It will lead you to the friends, lovers, teachers and benefactors you most need. It will show you your opportunities and your challenges. Invite this inner wisdom along with your intention to be your guide.
Be grateful. Be grateful for all that has lead you to your current position in life and all the blessings and goodness that surround you now. Be grateful for your body, your mind, your health and wellbeing, regardless of their supposed imperfections. Know that you are exactly who you need to be and that you are perfectly suited for the journey ahead.
Welcome the future with an open heart and honor your place in it.
You’re going to have a great 2014. I just know it. It’ll be an adventure (it always is!) and you’ll learn a lot. It’s your choice to allow it to make you better, stronger, and more beautiful in every way. Go for it, babe.