At the end of each year, I like to go within and ask myself what is a key word or theme of something I’d like to focus on for the next year. And then ask myself, “How did I do this year?”
Last year was “joyful movement.” For me, setting up a checklist of all the things I’d like to accomplish often leads me to disappointment if for some reason I was unable to achieve it. Maybe that’s being too hard on myself. Maybe that’s creating too lofty of a checklist. But what I’ve discovered for myself is that if I put an intention on just one word, one theme, or one point of focus, I have a much better chance of fulfilling that intention. Each day is available with an opportunity to check in with my mind and body, see how I feel, and ask myself, “what is one thing I can do today that points me in the direction of my intention?” Some days I’m quite gentle with myself and other days I strive for a challenge.
So how did I do? Well, I feel like I started off with a bang by trying something new in the world of dance. I attempted belly dancing and samba. With each class, I was transported into another world, another culture. My instructor would teach us samba in Portuguese, invite us to play with props and wardrobe, and provide us a cultural or historical context around each modality of dance. I was hooked! I was maybe not the most graceful dancer, but I sure was having fun and feeling like a child. And then a busy work schedule took precedence, and the classes slowly went to the wayside.
Of course, my natural tendency would be to judge this as a failure. But one of my other continuing goals is to let go of self-judgement and invite more self-compassion. So maybe I had to let go of the in-person classes. But I still danced! As I reflect on the past year, I still danced with my colleagues on the road or in the middle of my living room floor.
I also created joyful movement with yoga, Qigong, hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing. I played on the paddleboard with friends, I explored Puerto Rico with my sister and danced and sang by the fire with family at the lake in MN. I hiked around Yosemite and South Lake Tahoe on the way to my Chopra yoga retreat where I also practiced joyful movement of the mind and soul. And I challenged my parents to play with me on the drive back as we explored Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Zion, and Capitol Reef national parks.
How did I do? I think I did a first-rate job of practicing joyful movement! Is there more I can do? Absolutely! The possibilities are endless.
What do I want to continue? The practice of joyful movement. But this year, my word or theme has morphed into “glow.” If I think about why I want to practice joyful movement, it’s because I want to radiate joy. My intention is to “glow.” To shine, to sparkle, to radiate joy. And the practice of being in a state of glow is through joyful movement—of the mind and body. As I continue my studies of yoga and Ayurveda, I understand that moving through thoughts and emotions are just as important as movement of the body.
Another ritual I like to do at the beginning of a new year is to draw a spiritual card from my deck to see what message I receive. The insight card I drew for the new year encompasses this: It is time to slow down, breath, and take time to smell the roses. If you truly want to create things, you have to take time out to play. Joy is the frequency of creation.
So, there you have it! Permission to play. In fact, it’s a requirement in order to create! What better way to awaken to a new year than with an invitation to slow down and live in the moment.
Let this be your invitation as well. What’s your new year’s word or theme? What is one thing you can do today that moves you in that direction? What is something new you’d like to try? And what are you ready to let go of?
As I continue my path toward joyful movement, let me know if you’d like to join me on a hike sometime. Drop me an email and let’s get on the trail.
See you soon sunshine!
Spring is a wonderful time to clean out our drawers and closets and bring a sense of freshness to our immediate environment. It’s also an opportunity to clean up our diets and daily routines as we enter a new season. Read this article I wrote on 5 Ayurvedic Ways to Improve Balance in Your Body and Mind, published in the Spring 2021 issue of ABMP’s digital Body Sense magazine.