As the new year begins, do you find yourself stressed out about what it is you want to accomplish this next year? I mean the pressure is on! From the endless Ads about losing pounds, goal-setting, vision boarding and that nasty voice in your head that tells you you’re not doing enough to plan for your future. I feel you.
So I got to thinking…all we’re really asking for is clarity. We want to break through the fog and the noise and get clear on what a good year will look like for ourselves.
For me, here’s what clarity looks like:
C - Clear
L - Laughter
A - Attention
R - Rest
I - Individuality
T - Time
Y - Yourself
Mindfulness practices can help you achieve C.L.A.R.I.T.Y. So, here’s a breakdown and a suggested mindful practice to help you achieve each thing.
C - Clear - Get crystal clear on what you stand for and why, personally and professionally. Sounds daunting, right? There's so much you want to do that you don't know where you to begin. I hear ya. Start with developing a consistent mindful practice to help clear away the unwanted and extemporaneous thoughts, so you can zone in on what it is you want to become this year. Notice I said, "this year." Stop trying to plan your entire life. The best place to start is with today.
Mindful practice: Start with getting quiet. Listen for your breath. Allow your thoughts to come and then let them go. Now, make a list of what you want your life to look like, both personally and professionally 12 months from now. Make one column for each. Now 6 months now, make a list of what you need to accomplish to achieve those 12 month goals. Do the same for 3 months, 1 month and then today. Remember to keep your goals S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.
L - Laughter - Laugh a lot! Laughter lightens the load. If you make a mistake, instead of beating yourself up, laugh about it and move on. Find people who share the same sense of humor and spend time with them. There’s nothing like a good belly laugh to give you an attitude adjustment. Live Free Yoga’s other half, Tida Chambers, and I tend to get very serious when we’re co-creating content, planning for a presentation or applying for public school certifications. Then suddenly after a couple of hours, giddiness sets in and one of us says something that cracks us both up. I mean, rocking back and forth, tears streaming laughter. When it’s over, we are energized to continue our task with a new attitude and a smile.
Mindful practice: Call up the one person who "gets you" and be with her/him. They don't have to live in your neighborhood. FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or a simple phone call are all perfect for getting connected with your laughing buddy. And be present! Put your phone away, leave the laundry and forget the dirty dishes in the sink. Human beings are designed for connection. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. Be present and truly connect. And laugh your heads off!
A - Attention - What you place your attention on grows. Good and bad. So, when the doubts and fears consume you, your thoughts becomes the albatross that stops you from accomplishing your goals. It causes suffering and you don’t deserve it! I’ve been there. On the flip side, when you believe that what you want WILL happen, you will place your attention on that and do whatever it takes to make it happen. Oh, and don’t get attached to the outcome. Once you’ve done the work, move on! Set your attention on your next big thing and let the cards fall where they may. If things don’t work out the way you want, you’ve got nothing to feel guilty about. You’ve done your best.
Mindful practice: Being positive requires some effort. Not all of us are born with that gene. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it each day. Choose one thing to be grateful for each day, Be specific. For example, instead of, "I'm grateful for my husband," say, "I'm grateful that my husband washed the dishes after dinner so I could call my mom and share a funny moment from my day."
R - Rest - Underrated and desperately needed! Our health depends on rest! I don’t know about you, but I get real “rangry” when I’m rest-deprived. I can’t think clearly, I’m impatient and I get lazy. When I don’t have enough rest I want to eat things that aren’t good for me, I procrastinate and couch potato becomes my goal for the day.
Mindful practice: When you start feeling “rangry” go to your quiet place. Sit or lay down and pay attention to your breath. Begin counting the length of your inhale and exhale. Then whatever the length of your inhale, increase the length of your exhale to make it longer than your inhale. The exhalation triggers your parasympathetic response of rest and relaxation. Do that for however long you need to feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
I - Individuality - You are unique. There is only one of you. The fact that one in a zillion sperm happened to mate with one egg to make you is pretty remarkable. But sometimes we can feel lost. Like we are one in a zillion and worthless. You. Are. Special. But nobody but yourself can convince you of that. Not your mom, your dad, your best friend or your partner, It comes from you. So, get to know yourself. What moves you? What are your gifts? Take the time this year to discover yourself and own it. Own you.
Mindful Practice: Develop a consistent weekly Yoga practice. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means union. It is the integration of mind, body and spirit through the breath. Yoga is not about twisting into a pretzel or touching your toes. Yoga in itself is a self-discovery. Yoga poses (a.k.a. asanas) will not only strengthen muscles, but they will strengthen your mind and character. Poses that develop flexibility in your body will help you become more flexible and adaptable to whatever challenges arise. Yoga helps you to learn the nuances of your own body and begin to appreciate its beauty and what it needs to feel good. What YOU need to feel good. You will learn not only how to balance physically, but what it feels like to be out of balance in your life and make necessary adjustments to find equilibrium for yourself. Through Yoga you will discover your true gifts and your purpose on this planet.
T - Time - It’s limited. All we know in this lifetime is the clock is ticking forward, not backwards. We can’t get back those seconds that never stop. So, make the best of the time you’ve got. Make time for yourself to do the things you love and be with the people you enjoy being with. Make time to give to others. When my dad passed away, it was amazing how many people sent cards and emails about how much my dad meant to them, because of how much he gave. You get what you give. Take time to make a difference, big or small, and you will reap the rewards. Research shows that giving is one of the ingredients to happiness.
Mindful Practice: I’ll give you two here.
Time for yourself - take time to walk in nature. There is nothing like taking the time to connect with the earth and all its magnificence. Even in winter when the trees are bare and the grass is yellowed, you will see the simplicity around you - without colors and the cacophony of animal sounds. Enjoy the quiet and appreciate the blossoming of Spring that is to come.
Time for giving - Take the time and immerse yourself in our Mindfulness for Teens Training. Our graduates are making a difference in their own lives and the youth they serve.
Y - Yourself - Once you do all of the above, you will become your true, best self. The person you are meant to be and the person you are most proud of. Be yourself and the world will embrace you.
Mindful practice - Meditate. Whether you take time for 5 minutes or 20, meditation helps to bring you to the present moment. It helps you manage your thoughts and connect with your inner spirit, your true self. If you would like help starting your own meditation practice, check out our “Time In: A Guided Meditation for the Classroom.” It’s a short guided meditation for educators, but it’s good for everyone interested in starting a meditation practice.
Join us for our next Mindfulness for Teens Training January 18-20, 2019 in Dallas. Click here to claim your spot and make a big difference in your life and the lives of our precious teens.
Phyllis Smith is Co-Founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga.
Her company specializes in mindfulness programs for adolescents and teens and those who serve them.
If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga programs, email Phyllis at Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com or call 214-497-7982.,