Welcome to the month of new beginnings. This is a wonderful time to get out the vision boards, get the creative juices flowing and plan your whole next year! No pressure, right? Just thinking about it made my skin get hot. If the same happened to you, don’t fret. This is the year we are going to learn to slow down and actually deal with the beast in all our lives: stress. So before we go dreaming (and maybe stressing) over all this year might bring to us, let's begin with the theme for this month: Sacred Time.
We are busy people. Our lives are jammed packed with important things to do. This is the story we have been raised in and this is the story we accept. But is it serving our best and highest good? Let's for a moment imagine it's not.
Being busy all the time puts a lot of stress on the body and often leads us to neglect ourselves in very simple and important ways, which leaves us feeling not the best. January, especially the January of a new decade, is ideal to begin a daily ritual of carving out a special moment every day to connect with yourself, even if it’s only five minutes. Use those minutes to take three or four deep breaths, center yourself, and ground down in the present moment. In other words, just be. The joy we seek is not in the year to come or even the next day, it’s in the NOW, it is happening in the present moment. And I'm aware that we have all heard this a lot recently, but hearing something or knowing something in your head is not the same thing as experiencing it. Let this be the year we experience the joy of just being. Sacred Time is not only about carving time our for yourself, it is also about choosing happiness over yearning for it. Create a ritual, invite in a sense of playfulness, and practise claiming yourself, every second of the day.
Is this easy to do? Hell no! If it were, everyone would be joyous, and healthy (emotionally, mentally, and physically) all the time. I'm pretty sure though, that what you're doing right now isn't really working. I feel pretty confident in saying that because pushing through and always being in "go" mode didn't work for me. Breath and connection are medicine. Think of them like vitamins whose daily dose of nutrients supports your immune system and vitality.
Daily Action Step: find a rhythm of check-ins throughout the day that works for you – just before you leave the house for work, mid-morning break, lunch, afternoon break, commute home, and at the end of the day. Put your hands on your heart and breathe. Focus on your breath, and take four deep breaths. The breaths should have your belly and ribs expanding as the lungs fill. Imagine the diaphragm pushing down as you inhale and lifting up as you exhale massaging vital organs along the way. Be with this breath and visualize how it is working in the body, how the nose is pulling in oxygen, how it moves into the lungs bringing in newness and freshness and how the exhale releases old, stale air no longer serving the body. If possible, add in some gratitude. Thank your heart for pumping for you, supporting you. Tell yourself how amazing you are, how much you respect all the effort you are putting into whatever you are doing, and how worthy you are of love. Then make a commitment to your heart - like a mother would to her newborn - promise to look after your heart, to love it, cherish it, and protect it. Because you care that much for yourself and its purpose and function, from now on you promise you will take time out of your busy day to check in and see how it feels.
Even if feels silly, try it.
Having a relationship with your own heart is basic yet so, so powerful. An easy daily routine of placing your hands on your heart, is a moment that you are loving yourself and telling every cell in your body – I matter. This simple connection is a formidable healing gesture. Holding yourself and committing to care through the pain, through the stress, through the hurt, through the tough and the easy gives your heart – and you – permission to remain open, to heal, to let go, and trust.
Weekly: Get out your calendar and schedule an hour for yourself each week. Why schedule? Because you are just as important as all the other things that need to get done. And this is the point. As I said, we are busy DOING things all the time, so if it's not scheduled chances are excellent, it will be forgotten among all the last minute things that will pop up, because life does not stop. But we can! And this year, we are practising remembering that sometimes it is more productive to just BE. It’s four hours a month. I’m sure you can manage. And commit to holding to that hour.
There’s a beautiful flower called the Starflower, also known as Borage.
And every year the flower goes back to seed form or becomes fallow before it comes back again as a flower. This seed form is a return to potential, its pure essence. We can borrow this concept with Sacred Time by giving ourselves a chance to recharge, without needing to be something for someone else, putting on a mask, performing, getting things done, being the responsible one – no. This boundary setting miracle is a way to create some space between you and the world so you can practise taking care of you. Read a book, get a massage, take a class, stare at a wall – who cares – just do something for you, with you, and only you! And if you aren't sure how to fill the time, fear not, there will be plenty of activities offered to try out.
People who are over-stressed will find this the hardest to do, but are also the people who need it the most. When we are stuck in "go" mode, we don't actually know how to turn it off, and can be afraid of what might happen if we do. What if the world falls apart? Or the kids need something? Or, or, or a million things you could fill your brain with because that is what you are used to doing. So much so, in fact, that you think being like that is normal and everyone should be that way. Don't hate to break it to ya, but it's not. Stress wreaks havoc in the body and presents differently for different people. For me, it's my nerves and my endocrine system (mood). For some it might be digestive issues, heart issues, high blood pressure, auto-immune disorders -these are not "normal" signs of aging - but they are "normal" signs of too much stress in the body and do contribute to pre-mature aging and breakdown.
Balance is not a catchy word, it's a state of existence we should all be striving to experience. "Be"ing is as equally required as "do"ing not only for productivity but also for health and well-being. I promise the world will not fall apart in the 60 minutes you are giving yourself out of the 168 hours available in a week. I can say that you giving yourself these precious minutes could go a long way in calming the inflammation stress is causing on your systems.
We all deserve care and support and it begins by caring about and supporting our right to just "be". Bring yourself back to your authentic Grace, marinate in it, so you can remember not only who you are, but also what you have to offer to the world.
And don’t worry, we’ll get to the vision board and planning the year to come. The best time to set new intentions is actually with a New Moon, not a Full Moon. Full Moon is more about releasing and letting go, to make space for the new to come in. This month the Full Moon is on January 10th, which gives us plenty of time to contemplate what the priorities are for this new decade before January’s New Moon on the 24th.
For today - Focus on you, 5 minutes a day, one hour a week. Small check-ins with consistent applied effort. Commit to cultivating a relationship with you this year, in small increments. A little truly does go a long way.
Welcome to a new year, a new decade, a new you!