And just like that, we’re back at January…
The first month of the year is always a blank book, and we each carry the pen. Recognised by many cultures around the world across time, this new cycle evokes a real energy supportive of our transformational and creative efforts. It’s a time to turn over new leaves, and begin shifting our intentions into reality. Here are some reflections on where you might begin.
A Taoist Story
There was once a wise farmer who lived with his family on a mountain farm, nearby a village. One day, a wild horse turned up at his farm. The villagers said to the farmer, ‘what wonderful luck, a new horse for you!’ To this, the farmer replied, ‘good luck, bad luck, who knows?’
The next week, the horse ran away. The villagers said to the farmer, ‘oh, bad luck, your new horse is gone.’ To this, the farmer replied, ‘good luck, bad luck, who knows?’
The horse eventually returned, bringing even more wild horses. The villagers of course said, ‘wonderful news, you now have many horses.’ To which the farmer responded, ‘good news, bad news, who knows?’
One day the farmer’s son fell off one of the wild horses, breaking his leg. The villagers again say, ‘bad luck, we’re sorry.’ The farmer replied, ‘good luck, bad luck, who knows?’.
The very next week the country entered a war. Soldiers visited the village looking for young men to recruit to the army. The farmer’s son was not enlisted, due to his broken leg. The villagers said: ‘what good luck!’
This ancient story oh-so-perfectly encapsulates my first point, below.
When setting intentions or goals for the year, it’s always worth remembering that failure is a part of life, and more than that – it’s a function of life. Closed doors or ‘failures’ are simply U-turns or redirections on your journey. When looked at with an open mind… the concept of failure does not quite exist.
The idea of competition or ultimate goals can be a tricky one. Ultimately in life, there are no official boxes that to be ticked, or obstacles jumped in order to get to the finish line. This means spaciousness and self-love are key. Be kind to yourself regardless of where you think you are on the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ spectrum. It’s an ever-changing spectrum, anyway.
Setting intentions and goals can be great in providing direction, motivation and that magical sense of working to create something wonderful for yourself. Yet, becoming fixated on goals can actually get in the way of growth. We’ve all been there. Those chapters in life where we desperately want something for ourselves, while life desperately wants to give us something else. Now could be a time to look back on some of the bullets you’ve dodged, or blessings you’ve landed – in ways you had never asked for or imagined. More often than not, our redirections are greater and more expansive than that thing we were aiming for!
An important factor in achieving goals and bringing our best to all of our pursuits, is the energy underneath what we’re bringing to the table. This means becoming very honest with ourselves, about where we are and how we feel.
It’s always worth checking in: am I creating from an energy of lack and striving, because I’m desperate for X or Y to happen, without which I’ll feel like a failure?
Or… am I creating from a place of gratitude and being – where I’m relaxed, flexible and receptive – in a place of allowing what wants to be created to come through?
The energy we bring to our creations makes all the difference in their quality and impact, whether it’s a scrumptious soup, a huge mosaic, or a work projects. When we approach life from a perspective of desperation and lack, it will feel as though we’re trying to win a swimming race… but instead, barely treading water. We’ve all experienced the opposite though – when we approach things from a place of openness and gratitude. Positive events, people, abundance, creativity, connection and productivity all start to effortlessly flow more seamlessly into our lives.
Given that most of our doing is usually motivated by the feeling states that we want to experience – a good place to clarify intentions, is with what feeling states to we want to be in? With our intended feeling states clarified, we can then work backwards to see which actions and goals are likely to evoke these feelings states. Reversing the order from which we create action in this way is one of the key principles of Reiki.
This leads nicely to our first journal prompt.
New year journal prompts
- What did last year teach me?
- Are there any aspects of last year that I feel ready to release?
- What’s my word for the year? E.g trust, abundance, love, connection.
- Which three feeling states do I wish to cultivate the most this year? E.g comfort, vitality, joy.
- In response to my answers above – what’s one step that I can take towards achieving each feeling state that I mentioned?
- What’s one new daily practice that will feel self-loving to myself?
- Am I ready to start?
*Editor’s note: we published this article in 2019, but Nisha has recently added to and tweaked it!
Michelle is a writer, musician, meditation and yoga teacher based in Bali. She teaches meditation and yoga retreats through her own business, The Global Yogi. and also offers coaching sessions in Self Love.