This morning, I woke up to a slew of marketing emails in my inbox with titles like “New Year! New You!” and “Live Your Best Life Ever This Year!”, or something in line with how you can improve yourself, optimize your time, make more money doing what you love, lose weight and look great. But here’s the deal, I am no different than who I was the day before the calendar changed to 2019. The big resolutions and goals I make this week won’t define who I am or become. And all the mind-created anxiety I felt to close the loops on the previous year and projects, end all my “bad” habits and finally start doing the thing I said I was going to on the date of this new year’s start isn’t really what it’s about.
Rather, what shapes a life are the micro decisions we make each day to show up for ourselves. It’s the moments we take for self-reflection and adjustment based on what is needed that day. It’s the practices we do that help us cultivate greater self-awareness. Because awareness clarifies our perception of ourselves and the world around us. And perception strengthens discernment, an invaluable tool that helps us navigate the slew of life’s daily stimulations and challenges with greater grace. To me, this is true self care.
In 2018, I watched the wellness world boom to new heights. Suddenly, self-care became a trendy buzzword. This NY Times article said it best:
Before we knew it, the wellness point of view had invaded everything in our lives: Summer-solstice sales are wellness. Yoga in the park is wellness. Yoga at work is wellness. Yoga in Times Square is peak wellness. When people give you namaste hands and bow as a way of saying thank you. The organic produce section of Whole Foods. Whole Foods. Hemp. Oprah. CBD. “Body work.” Reiki. So is: SoulCycle, açaí, antioxidants, the phrase “mind-body,” meditation, the mindfulness jar my son brought home from school, kombucha, chai, juice bars, oat milk, almond milk, all the milks from substances that can’t technically be milked, clean anything. “Living your best life.” “Living your truth.” Crystals.
It’s easy to confuse the tools with the fruit of a practice. I love great branding, I love art, I love the way people intelligently combine the two to make a product experience beautiful. I own crystals, I enjoy an occasional matcha latte. I make my own nut milks. I go to yoga classes, I listen to mantra music and wear white organic cotton clothing. But at the core of what is shaping my life, is not the products or even the practices themselves, but the state the practices bring me to and the actions I take as a result from what arises in that space. I believe Self-inquiry as a daily act is far more effective than annual one. So rather than resolutions, what matters is getting clear on how I want to show up for myself in the day-to-day this year.
Here are a few ways to do this, day-by-day, week-by-week, moon-by-moon, season-by-season….
- Question Often – ask why are you doing what you’re doing? Where is it taking you? How does it make you feel? If there’s a misalignment with your intention, action and outcome, where can you redirect and realign what’s needed?
- Strengthen Digestion – agni, our digestive fire, helps us to digest what life throws our way…be it a meal of actual food or a big juicy life challenge, a strong digestive fire helps to integrate experiences in real time. Ayurveda and Yoga both teach incredible tools for increasing our digestive capacity and vital energy, these are the tools I teach in my Inner Wisdom Coaching program.
- Architect Spaciousness – intelligent life design means more than optimizing your work flow and time, but knowing how to build in spaciousness for rest and enjoyment alongside it. When I plan a trip or craft my weekly work schedule, I’m also time blocking my events with the appropriate amount of integration time alongside it and honoring the liminal spaces between doing and being. This goes hand-in-hand with keeping my digestive fire running strong, because I’m consciously creating space to rest, reflect and digest before taking in more. Very simply…this could look like ten deep breaths in transitional moments, taking a walk after lunch before rushing back to your emails, a ten minute yoga nidra when you get home from work before turning on the tv or scrolling through your phone, bookending your travel with a day to prepare and a day to reintegrate, taking time to celebrate big projects completed or accomplishments before embarking on the next thing, or doing a seasonal cleanse to rest the senses from stimulation.
*Photography collaboration with Todd Scott Ballje