Entering the New Year – Contemplative Reflection & Conscious Intention Setting

This piece is the first of a year-long series of monthly meditation talks and practice. For more information and to participate in the live event, go to Walking the Path of Heartfulness in 2023.

Experience is our teacher – We all know this and yet we forget this often. We are moving through the world quickly, sometimes on auto-pilot, due to a sense of urgency, anxiety, or striving, etc. I just started reading Tricia Hersey’s new book Rest is Resistance where she talks about how since birth we have been slowly “indoctrinated into the cult of urgency” (p.17), that “we have all participated willingly and unwillingly in the allure of grind culture.” Oh how this has been so true for me. 

The world is a hectic place. Many of us are trying to simply get through the day while perhaps experiencing less stress and maybe a morsel of joy and meaning. According to Hersey, life does not have to be this way. We can resist grind culture through the radical act slowing down, resting. This point just skims the top of Hersey’s social critique. Go read her book! While this post is not a deep dive into resting, it is about considering consciously how we want to move into and through 2023. This is where mindfulness and meditation become insightful guides.

Mindfulness offers us a profound reminder to LIVE consciously, intentionally, with clarity of where we are placing our attention and how we are relating to our lived experience. It helps us experience groundedness in a world that is always moving. Mindfulness is not about being stuck or stagnate. In fact, it is the opposite. It is about feeling rooted within ourselves, our beingness, as life moves through and guides us. 

The wise poet and writer, Mark Nepo once said, “Every experience we have adds a word to the language of our own wisdom, which we must decipher.” In other words, we can know on a deeper level what our lived experience is teaching us when we slow down (mentally and/or physically, like in meditation or deep reflection). We can even do this within our busy day, through pausing and checking in using these two questions: 1. What is happening right now? 2. How am I relating to it?

One of my teachers, Deborah Eden Tull, talks about how we live in constant emergence. Life is always in process, ever-changing, impermanent in nature. Therefore, we are really never the same, never in the same place even though it can feel like it. If we can embrace and pay attention to how life is always unfolding or emerging (this is one intention of formal meditation practice), we can decipher our wisdom and not stay stuck in old patterns or limiting beliefs, which we are often unconscious to and silently governed by.

Here are three main limiting beliefs that may resonate with you now or when you reflect on the past year in the guided meditation provided:  

1. There’s something wrong 

2. There’s not enough or I am not enough 

3. There’s something I have to do

At this time of year, the consumer and social media spaces push resolutions as a marketing ploy. These “resolutions” are always product focused, perpetuating the 3 main limiting beliefs. For example, there is something wrong with the way I look, live, parent, work, etc.; I need more of X in order to experience happiness or importance, on and on. While goals are useful, it is helpful to identify if the goal is in reaction to a limiting belief. Meditation helps uncover limiting beliefs and how they are directing our lives. Renowned meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, says that meditation “opens us to that which is unseen in our experience.” We can think about awareness as a circle with a line through it. Above the line is everything in our field of awareness or consciousness. Everything below the line is out of our awareness or consciousness and yet is still happening, like limiting beliefs. To learn more about mindfulness and meditation explore my Engaged Mindfulness Series.

Intentions, on the other hand, are process focused, honoring the truth that life is constantly changing, unfolding, emerging. In the following meditation, we bring a mindful (kind, curious and gentle) attention to our present experience, then move through 3 reflections, and end with setting an intention for the new year. We are NOT setting a goal to achieve; instead, we are attuning to our lived experience with loving awareness so that we allow our heart’s wisdom to guide us.

Now even though we are not setting a goal to achieve, the wisdom we are tapping into will lead to action. This in turn may lead to achieving some goals. Our ultimate intention is to live within this emergence through staying attuned to our inner lives. We do this by being mindful of what serves our well-being (and those of our families and communities). We bring our limiting beliefs and habitual reactions (patterns or conditioning) to light, into awareness so we have a choice in how we want to show up, respond, or relate to our lives.

The reflections-questions that are posed in the meditation:


First Reflection: Call upon any goodness, accomplishments, gratitudes, joys – shifts within you or your life that can be celebrated. 


Second Reflection: Review any mistakes or regrets identifying any limiting beliefs. What was the limiting belief that caused the most suffering or stuckness this past year?


Third Reflection: Identify golden lessons. What have I learned about life and living it during this past year?


Intention Setting: As I stand in the metaphorical doorway of this new year, how will I love myself this year? How do I want to show up for life? In my heart, what do I know to be true about how to approach this new year?

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