Biiiiig feelings this time of year, huh? Hope feels in short supply as we round out 2021 and start a New Year. In my most recent newsletter, I called 2021 an unrequited year, and that feels so apt- we had such high hopes and so much going for us coming out of 2020, and we just… didn’t seem to get there, collectively or individually.
Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, maybe your 2021 met and exceeded expectations, and if that’s the case for you, then YAY! Get out in the world and spread that magical energy with those around you. But if you feel like you wanted more from ‘21, and you’re afraid to hope for ‘22 because of that- read on for a little support.
Recently, I finished re-reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (absolutely beautiful, devastating thoughts on the tough moments of life), and I was reminded of a valuable tool for when I start to spiral- and if I’m being honest, I’ve been doing a lot of spiraling the last few months. But Pema breaks down our emotional whirlpools by reminding her readers (myself included) that every internal crisis we trudge through originally started as a simple thought in our heads. A thought is not inherently harmful; it’s what we choose to believe about ourselves, the long-winded stories that we construct from that single thought that wound us and stifle our purpose.
If you’re finding yourself doing a LOT of heavy emotional battle right now, even if there are very real external circumstances fueling the fight, go back to that original thought, and call it out for what it is: thinking. You’re just thinking.
“Oh! There I go! I’m thinking again!”
How often do we assume the worst in ourselves and other people based upon a single thought, a single misinterpretation, a single negative experience? How do those thoughts color the next series of actions we take?
Try Pema’s meditation practice, even for 5 minutes a day: sit in comfortable stillness, eyes closed, and focus on each exhale. Allow space for nothing-ness during each inhale. As thoughts emerge (they absolutely always will), remind yourself that you are simply thinking, and come back to presence with your exhale, space with your inhale. As you start to shed light on your thoughts, you’ll notice where they take you. You’ll notice what stories you are weaving for yourself, what rock-solid opinions you are subconsciously forming, all because of one little thought.
After just 5 minutes of this practice each day, you’ll begin to notice moments outside of meditation where your thoughts get away from you. Assumptions you make about others, fears and worries that plague you, long-held judgments, all of these mental patterns are simply THOUGHTS. And with this clarity, the things that feel so horribly true and insurmountable in the moment lose a little of their sting. You come back to breath. You survive heavy emotions.
Happy End of the Year, my friends. We’ve been through so much, and have become stronger for it.
If you are ready to deep dive into powerful mental + emotional health that begets physical health, take a look at my offerings. I would love to work with you!
December 30, 2021