Looking back to see where you were at the start of the year, and where you are today, can be both humbling and liberating. Learning from this journey, from our actions and behaviours is how we gather our wisdom. And this wisdom helps us calibrate our attitude to how we live our life.
As the coming months mark the end of this year and the start of a new one, how about creating a sort of ritual or ceremony to reflect on the learnings you’ve gleaned in the past so many months?
To help you enter the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment, here are 3 activities to create a little ceremony around mindful reflection. They will help you pause and reflect on what made the year memorable, and how you have changed as a person. Try practising at least one of these regularly so you can take your next steps with a greater sense of happiness and contentment:
- Mirror Gazing:
The idea of this exercise is to break from the natural habit of being critical of ourselves as soon as we see our own reflection, and work towards facing ourselves and transforming our feelings about self-worth.
Sit in front of a large mirror and spend 5-7 minutes getting comfortable looking at your own reflection. Consciously avoid thinking of things you see wrong in yourself; instead look at yourself like you are having coffee/tea with someone close- and that someone is YOU.
Tell this ‘someone’ things that you’d like to hear from a close friend for e.g. what makes you proud of him/her, or talk about the one big challenge that this ‘someone’ had to overcome, and how happy you are to see that s/he has not quit even though s/he wanted to.
- Reflection Letters:
Writing a letter to yourself is a wonderful way to communicate with your future self. List down a list of highs and lows you experienced this year and 10 reasons why you are proud of yourself.
Ask yourself questions like, “what is my favourite memory from this year?” or “What is something I should have done differently?” Or “Who are the people I should show gratitude to?” etc.
Try and be as specific about events or people, or your reactions/behaviour in certain situations. This will help you externalise that event and become more aware of how you should have reacted versus how you actually did.
- Jar of Gratitude:
This is more of an ongoing exercise rather than a one-time activity. In the humdrum and stress of our daily lives, we often tend to overlook or disregard the little good/happy moments that pepper the day. Even something like finding a dry pressed flower evoking an old happy memory from childhood is a moment to be treasured.
So take a big, dry mason jar, and keep filling it with notes on whatever made you happy that day. Don’t forget to put the date on your note. You can either write it as soon as the moment happens and drop it in the jar.. or you can write your notes at the end of the day when you have time to yourself to pause and reflect on the day.
As the year draws to a close, another important habit to cultivate is ‘intention setting’ for the coming year. At Ekaanta: the end of a year is always exciting for us because it teases us with the promise of a new year and new beginnings.
A reset or a fresh start requires new goals. Setting an intention can become the fuel to reach those goals or visions. An intention is like a compass; it shows you the direction that you need to follow to get to your destination. Without a compass, you’ll just keep walking without the destination in mind.
So here are 3 things that tell you how to do your intention setting with full commitment so you can look at your future with renewed hope:
- Question Yourself: Your heart is the best mirror to your own soul. To reach out to your inner self, move away from thinking to feeling. Ask yourself questions like
- What brings me joy?
- What is my purpose?
- How would I describe myself?
- What are my most precious values?
- What am I truly grateful for?
- Keep your intentions positive: Avoid thinking of the negative. Instead, look within yourself and think of all the positive things you want to manifest in your life. Intentions are a ‘positivity practice’, not a goal-setting activity. So “I will wake up every day at 6 am” is not an intention, it’s a goal. “I will improve my sleeping habit” is an intention.
Similarly an intention can be “I will spend quality time with my children every day”, or “I will breathe deeply and control my temper every time I get angry”.
- Forgive yourself: When it comes to others, you say ‘sorry’ so easily. But when was the last time you apologised to yourself? Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen says each of us is our own worst critic. We doubt ourselves in order to check ourselves. And that racks up unpleasant emotions like guilt, anger, frustration, embarrassment and loathing.
Being kind to yourself is the first step to achieving your intentions. It is said, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” So forgive yourself. Have a mental conversation with yourself, where you own up your past mistakes, understand why you behaved in a certain way, and then do an intention setting that you will not carry the weight of guilt or self-loathing any longer.
Setting intentions is powerful when done properly, because it’s more than just setting goals — it’s about being purposeful in pursuing your desires. So here’s to mindful living to bring you peace, hope and purpose, to shed the old and don the new in the coming year.