One of the special things about this time of year is taking the time to step away from the busyness of our lives and reassess where we are and what we want to create in the year ahead. While it is customary to do an annual review, setting intentions and resolutions when a new year begins, it is helpful and nourishing to carry this habit into the rest of the year as well.
Slowing down periodically in a purposeful manner can bring more intentionality to our lives. It is wonderful for clearing one’s head, releasing things we no longer need and moving forward toward important goals.
Life is incredibly busy for many of us these days—not just in terms of taking care of ourselves, but attending to the needs of others as well. Often what gets lost is the time we take to slow down and let the mud settle, allow the water of our consciousness to become clear and still, so that what is important to us comes into focus. When we do this it enables us to be proactive in our lives, rather than simply reacting to what life brings us. How can we create this healthy habit? Here are three simple steps:
- If you are an early riser, sit in a comfortable place in the early morning when all is quiet. If you are a night owl, the end of the day is probably your optimal time of quiet, alone time for contemplation. This will work best if you fit your slowing-down time in with your own rhythms and those of your environment.
- Bring an attitude of curiosity and openness to discovery to this time. Allow yourself to slow down by breathing consciously and comfortably—as slowly and deeply as you can. I like to think of myself as having an antenna that becomes somewhat retracted as I go through my busy day. When I sit quietly, it allows me the space to let my antenna fully extend again—listening for whispers of wisdom from the universe. No matter what your religious beliefs, slowing down to listen like this opens you to deeper connection. Let it happen.
- Bring something to write with, so that as you come to clarity about issues or a direction you may want to go in, you can jot it down. Sometimes when things grow quiet enough inside you, you may find yourself writing stream of consciousness for quite a while—this is marvelous. Research has shown this kind of regular writing to be therapeutic and healing on many levels. It can assist the process of emptying out a jumble of thoughts and feelings so that you can get to clarity inside. Like taking a heavy backpack you’ve been carrying and dumping it out on the floor to see what is there, writing in this way can help you identify what an issue is really all about. In this way it is part of helping you get more clarity.
Once you achieve some clarity, you can advance to the stage of setting intentions, and begin to write about the outcomes, goals and direction you want to head toward, rather than simply responding to what is coming at you moment to moment in your life.
When you have begun your daily process of slowing down and getting clear, remember you are worth doing this on a regular basis. This kind of self-care will bring out the best of who you are and set you on a path that can be rewarding, nourishing and enjoyable.
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, C.M.T., C.S.T.-D., author of Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body’s Wisdom, is also the creator of the training and audio series, Healing From the Core: A Journey Home to Ourselves (healingfromthecore.com). She has taught CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release for the Upledger Institute since 1986, and for the past 20 years has been on faculty at the Esalen Institute.