Recently I was in the Gambia, visiting a rural community which I support as a trustee of a charity; the Kambeng Trust. Whilst there it transpired to be the Muslim new year, a national holiday was called, and worked ceased for the next two days ( New years eve is a different date each year in the muslim calendar, dependant on the moon, and Gambian's don't have much of a plan ahead mentality it seems!) I was curious to know how they chose to celebrate it, (and at such short notice!) What transpired was a simple ritual of visiting friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, and asking for forgiveness for any wrongs committed in the past year. and thus starting the new year with a clean conscience. To me this was a lovely idea, and got me thinking about our new year, how we celebrate beyond the boozing and fireworks, and what I choose to honour from the past year, what i'd like to let go of, and what I want to create or invite in for the new one.
Traditionally in our culture at this time of year we start to make plans and make great promises of action for our resolutions for the coming year, but in traditional chinese medicine, we are in the time of deep reflection. This is a time to retreat from the world; to reflect and contemplate. It is a time for stillness. Spring is naturally the time to put plans into action, not the depths of winter.- look at nature! The trees have shed their leaves, animals are hibernating, and have food stored for the time of shortage. - Ask any keen gardener what they are doing this time of year? and you'll be hard pressed to get their attention away from the seed catalogue! We often use this time to make sweeping statements about diet, fitness, finances, or ways of living and with great intention, which soon begin to slip and slide as the year creeps in.
My invitation to you is to use the new year as a time to clear out what is not needed from the past, including unhelpful or stagnant thinking patterns, and create space for new ideas, intentions and plans which can move into action in the spring - following the natural patterns of nature. By all means make some resolutions, but be mindful of what your intentions are, and how you plan to put that into action. create small baby steps, and build from there, so that by the spring the intention is clear and solid, and action can be taken. Research has shown that people who are most effective at following through on their New years resolutions are people who have made a clear plan - a daily / weekly action which can be easily incorporated into life rather than grand sweeping statements - a clear how and when, not just the what - or the desired end result, but the detail.
With this in mind you might be interested in a couple of Apps to help you along the way. I find as my attention slips and my intentions slide, a gentle daily reminder can make all the difference; and there is a free app which I would like to introduce you to which you might find really useful.
To help clear the mind and create more space, daily mediation can be transformative. For some people, this can be a daunting thought and have no idea where or how to start.
Headspace have created a really easy to use app, which introduces you to mediation, and gives you a 10 minute daily meditation to follow. click on the button to find out more. Ive recommended this to clients and friends, and they've found it really useful.
I wish you all the best for a fulfilling, nourishing, stimulating and healthy 2014!
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