As we gear up for the new year, it’s nice to take the time to reflect upon the year behind us and how we plan to move into the future. As repetitive as it may seem to make these goals or check in with yourself, I can’t help but think it’s a nice excuse to be able to tap in and see how you’re doing. Whether you had a shit year, an exciting year, an unexpected year or a year of growth, it’s important to take the time to think about what went well and how you can grow.
It’s like when you go through a breakup. I like to always think (for the most part), no harm done. You had your good times, you made your good memories, and now it’s time to move on and sprout into a better version of yourself.
So as we gear up for the New Year, the “New Us”, I’d like to share what I plan to focus on personally that I think we can all benefit from more of in our life.
For me, this past year was a time of stability and growth. I worked hard and I worked a lot, but the sacrifice was my inner peace. Granted, I live an incredibly blessed life here in New York City. I’m doing my dream job and can pay for myself to have the lifestyle that I want, but oftentimes the grind of New York City will eat you away in ways you miss before it’s too late.
So with all the work I continue to hope to get, I also plan to find balance within myself to attain true peace. No more trying to mask the frustration of each subway ride, gritting my teeth at every little annoyance, snapping at those closest to me because they’ll tolerate it or suppressing the need to meditate daily. If I think back to my year and how well it went work wise, I can only imagine how much better I’ll be if I’m calm with myself and my mind. Imagine how much more work will flow if I’m centered.
Tuning into your soul is a lot easier said than done. To quiet the mind and all the fuss around you is something that takes many yogis or meditators years to achieve. This is no small feat, but if it’s something we can all work on, perhaps those subway rides or little tiffs with your loved ones will be much easier to manage for all of us. Imagine for instance if every New Yorker were to take a chill pill before they leave for work. Only in a dream world right? Maybe. But perhaps meditating and focusing on your thoughts and personal needs is the medicine we all need for the illness we’re not being treated for.
I like to do “Yoga with Adriene” at home. It’s easy, I can choose my own level and be in my own space to move at whatever pace I feel comfortable with. On one recent practice, I had been a bit easily annoyed by everything that day, perhaps it was that “time of the month” and I couldn’t seem to shake anything off. If someone looked at me the wrong way I could have broken down and cried right then and there. Thankfully I realized I was being a bit unreasonable so decided to check in with Adriene and let all the frustrations glide off me with each drop of sweat. About 10 minute into the practice, my partner came into the kitchen, adjacent to where I was doing my flow and started to quietly make dinner. Totally fair, his space just as much as it was mine but I couldn’t help but snap at him with anger. “Couldn’t he see I was trying to not be annoyed by doing this yoga practice???”
I stopped the practice, stormed around the room and made a fuss then tried to get back into it as my love one kind of just stood there confused by my recent outrage. It was another 10 minutes into the practice that I began to realize absolutely nothing was his fault. He could have smiled at me and I would have burst with annoyance. It was the buildup of simply a busy day in the city that got to me more than I realized and was causing more turmoil with what should have been a calm relaxing night in.
Thankfully, I fell into the trance of Adriene’s soothing voice and literally visualized all the grit leaving my body with each deep breath. It was incredible. I was feeling lighter and calmer and couldn’t believe something as simple as deep breathing and a little stretching could make me feel whole again.
With all that in mind I still continue to live my dream life in New York and don’t visualize giving it up anytime soon. The city gets to you, but when it does you simply have to tap into yourself and give yourself some extra love to combat the aggression you may be blindly holding.
Here are some ways I think we can give ourselves a bit more love and work on our inner healing. While the holiday season is supposed to be a time of love and reflection, oftentimes it ends up being a period where we overstress, we overbuy, we over indulge and over extend ourselves. Let this piece inspire you to go to the events you want, indulge in the cookies you’re dreaming but to always remember to take a little time to reflect on what you personally need to live a little happier.
Take a social media break
I’m not saying get rid of it all together or to not post, believe me for my own job (unfortunately) it’s pretty imperative that I have an online presence but the world will wait, believe it or not, for you to post whatever you need to. Whether it be to take a day off here and there or to limit the number of minutes (in reality, hours) you spend each day, try and monitor your usage and slow down a little bit, especially over the holidays. Your friends will all be having a grand ol’ time, everyone always appears to be, but just remember it’s okay to have a boring day where nothing seems worth sharing. Savor the days where you can relax and perhaps skip the endless scroll on days like this and read a book or listen to a podcast instead, whenever you get the urge to open the app.
Do some yoga!
There’s something magical about the power of tuning into your mind and taking a deep breath. It helps switch off any negative energy you may be holding on to and it’s a nice way to get your body moving with the flow. Yoga with Adriene has different free videos for any mood you may be in. “Yoga for back ache”, “yoga for post-breakup”, “yoga for starting your morning”, etc. She’s got a video just for you.
Right when you wake up, before you check any e-mails or read any news, write down one thing you’re grateful for
I saw another model post about this practice and was immediately enthralled. I often wake up immediately check e-mails and Instagram which often starts my day off a little stressed out. Instead of taking time to think of what I’m thankful or happy for, I see news I don’t want to read or scroll through pictures aimlessly. Instead lately, I’ve been trying to wake up and immediately write down what I’m grateful for, however big or small it may be. Sometimes it’s something recent that has happened, other times it’s something big, but it truly helps set your day off on the right foot.
Meditate five to ten minutes every day
Similar to practicing yoga, taking a moment to breath can bring a lot of positivity to your day. If you don’t have the time to do a full yoga practice (guilty!), try taking a moment out of your day, I love doing it right before bed, to lay down, close your eyes, and practice some deep breathing. Sometimes, if I need some extra guidance I’ll throw on a meditative track such as ocean waves white noise or use an app like Insight Timer that guides you through a meditation however long you see fit to whatever noise that brings you most joy. The Zhada bowl has a grounding ring to it that makes me feel aligned and centered.
Get off the subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way
There’s nothing like a little fresh air to make the commute a little more pleasant. In New York especially, you’re often sandwiched in between people you don’t even know, a yelling match 9/10 times always breaks out and there’s absolutely no such thing as personal space. To get a few extra steps in and calm myself before work or before I get home, sometimes I find getting out a bit early and walking the rest of the way is the best answer.
Something that always keeps me calm and collected is to try my best to be compassionate. Granted, it’s hard as can be to sympathize with the guy standing in the doorway of the subway at rush hour who won’t move for anyone because that spot is most convenient for him (perhaps I’m coming from a place of experience here) but what I try and do (again, perhaps maybe not in that instance) but rather than letting my anger boil over I often try and just think of how that person is doing. On my worst of days, I still have a home to come home to and an incredible fiancé to love. Perhaps that person has no loved one, is in between jobs or just got fired. Anger (most of the time) doesn’t come from nothing. So while it would be a lot easier to yell at that guy on the subway or even give him a shoulder on your way out, try sympathizing instead or even giving him a smile. You’ll feel better about yourself afterwards and your heart will be more full.
Do a meditative retreat
Sometimes we need to really remove ourselves from our natural habitat in order to power off and get back to our centers. I’m hoping in the new year to be able to do this by going on a yoga or meditative trip, however long I can fit in. If it’s two days, amazing, a whole week, even better! I’ve heard magical things about Kripalu in Massachusetts. They have retreats for all types of activities from meditative to yoga to Ayurveda and teacher training and you can go for weeks or a long weekend if that’s all the time you have.
If it’s one of these things or all of them, however many you can try and implement them into your New Year’s goals and see how you feel once you’re tuning into your center light. I think a lot of us hold on to stress we didn’t even know we had; stomach aches and indigestion (guilty), unexplainable bald patches of hair missing (guilty), or a fragile emotional state that makes you want to cry a little too easily, and something as simple as taking a moment to breath or write down one thing you’re thankful for can help alleviate a lot of the stress. As Adriene from Yoga with Adriene says, “Find What Feels Good”, and may you all go forth into the New Year with all the strength, passion and wholeness you need.