Take a deep breath! The rush and demands of the holiday season are done and the stillness of January has moved in. It is such a lovely month! It’s quiet, calm, restful and can be restorative especially after the flurry of the past few months and end of the year tasks. January offers us space for calmness and re-connection with ourselves in a way that can nourish ones’ soul.
As I’m writing this I notice how nature teaches us to slow down and go within. It is dormant, waiting quietly, not hurried, still, trusting that whatever is next will reveal itself. I’ve found when I lead my life from a place of quiet and stillness I’m able to see people, situations, relationships, commitments and the world from a more grounded place that aligns with who I truly am. In the stillness there are no roles, no masks, no pretenses, no obligations, no shoulds, no guilt, no expectations! Just pure stillness and presence with my essential Self.
So it seems fitting that January’s theme for My Year of Mindful Living is
Most people just don’t feel a sense of peace, calm, or serenity, throughout their day. I have to admit that I’m the same way some of the time, but I have learned a few things that have helped me create a feeling of calm much more of the time than ever before.
So how do we find a place of calm in this world that is constantly bombarding us with demands for our attention with 24-hour news, constant connection to work, people and information, social media and cell phones? Here are a series of habits that have developed over the last few years. I’m not perfect at them, but I do practice them, and they are always helpful.
Begin with an environmental detox by deciding where and with whom we are going to give time, energy and attention to.
Choose 3 items from each of these categories: TV, Websites, Emails, News apps, Social Media, Magazines, Books, Relationships, Commitments. For example choose 3 TV programs you watch, 3 forms of Social Media you use, 3 difficult relationships. Keep it easy and spontaneous.
Evaluate how each of these categories affect your mood and energy levels. Do they inspire you, instill hope and optimism or do they exhaust you and create anxiety? What can you eliminate from your life that drains your energy and time?
Don’t rush the process, take your time and be intentional. After you remove obstacles that drain you check in. How does that feel in your body? Lighter, freer, more space for calm and creativity?
Now give yourself time each day to experience stillness and quiet, walk in nature, stare out the window, listen to music, gaze at your favorite vacation photos, go for a run, create something new. It is when we clear space internally and externally that we can begin to feel calmness in our thoughts and body.
These are ongoing practices for me, not a one-time change in my surroundings or work pattern. Changing your environment is great, just remember you can’t control the things that happen to you much of the time, and you certainly can’t control how other people act. The only thing you can control is your response — and your response matters. You can respond to the same event with anxiety or anger, or you can respond with peace and calmness.