One of the very beautiful gifts that a regular practice can bring is the opportunity to create space, to be still and to reflect. A time to process thoughts, emotions and experiences. The end of a year is also a time many of us tend to do this—we think back over the past 12 months, acknowledging what was achieved and what was lost. What we felt was good and perhaps not so good.
I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that 2020 was certainly not the year I had expected it to be. In January I had a full time teaching position at a yoga school, plans to study, to travel to Europe with my girlfriend and to see my family. It’s now December, I’m mainly teaching yoga privately (with a few side hustles), I had to cancel my place at college, cancel our trip, my girlfriend is now my wife and I haven’t seen my family for 18months. It’s been quite a ride.
What I believe has been quite challenging with the global situation this year is that it has forced us to slow down and pause. We live in a society that is constantly moving so fast - we rush from place to place, week to week. We make endless appointments, plans and goals, that we can completely miss being in the here and now. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, job changes/losses have forced us to stop. To stop rushing, to stop distracting ourselves, to stop thinking ahead and arrive to this moment. To be present.
With presence, comes awareness. Awareness of thoughts, of words, of actions. Awareness of life. We begin to see that every little thing matters. We question how we’re living and the kind of impact that we’re having. We start to ask ourselves what it is that really gives our life meaning, what we believe in, and how we are aligning with that.
What i’ve learnt, or been reminded of, most this year is that beyond this moment, nothing is certain. Instead of seeing this as frustrating, anxiety producing or disheartening - all of which i have experienced at times this year. I choose to see this as liberating. I feel grateful for what is right now — the place I’m in, the people I’m surrounded by, appreciating this precious and delicate moment. We really have no idea how long it will last, when it will change, and you can be sure that one day you’ll find yourself wishing it back. So relish in it, now.
Yoga, meditation and mindful practices have the ability to be life changing because they change our way of thinking and being. The practice of finding stillness, of observing the mind begins to show us that what we’re seeing outside of ourselves, is a reflection of what is happening within. So although we may not be able to control what might happen tomorrow, we do have the choice on how we react and respond. We have the choice to become hard and resist life, or we can try to soften, and accept the ever changing, transient, impermanent nature of all things.
A practice gives us something to always come back to. It gives us steadiness and stability. It reminds us to keep the faith and momentum in the difficult times. It reminds us to appreciate and savour the sweetest moments. It reminds us that eventually everything will pass away and transform into something knew. Practice reminds us that every moment, every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. If we choose it to be.
5 contemplations for your end of year
- What have you learnt about yourself
- What is the biggest lesson/insight you’ve received
- What was the best moment/hardest moment, do they relate
- What/who made the biggest impact on you
- What do you want to let go of before you move into a new year