Monday, December 5, 2016

Practices for a smoother season

     As I type this post today, we are right dab in the middle of the holiday season.  No matter what and when you celebrate this season, the month of December seems to take on a life of its own.  By the time the new year rolls around we are feeling a huge need to reboot our lives.  The feeling doesn't always come from a centered joyful place but more of a panic, frustrated and determined to make this next year better place.

    This post is all about creating rituals and practices that support new habits for the month of December.  Habits that will help create a place for you to celebrate, reboot and refresh.

   The practice I'm talking about is called Beginning, Middle and End.  When I work in a home to help downsize or clear the clutter, there is usually a part of this equation that is missing- maybe two or three parts.  Setting the intention and getting started is the first part.  Staying clear, focused and taking action is the second part and finally there needs to be an ending time to wrap up, celebration and pause.

Like our calendars life moves in seasons and circles.  Starting in Jan, rounding through July and back to December our years are not straight lines but circles.  You can't jump around, you need to stay in the flow of time.  Just like clutter clearing and just like the month of December.

For this month not to feel like a treadmill going nowhere here are a few practices you might consider implementing this season.

The beginning- Setting the intention and getting started
    How you start your day sets the stage for the entire day.  Wake up with enough time for a bit of am movement, connection time and setting the intention of the day.  A cup of warm water with lemon or lime will help get your digestive system flowing.   Movement gets you moving and uncrinks the night.
    Set the intention of the day- how do you want it to feel, to flow?  Ask for what you want for the day.  Say thank you in advance.  Breathe deeply and take a minute of two to set your course for the day.  What would you love to do?  What have you been putting off?  What is essential to this day?  These are wonderful questions to ask yourself. 
   Give yourself a time to start your day.  Depending on when my first appointment is I try to give myself at least 30 minutes of am free time- time to move, set intentions and connection time.  It is also important to start the day with good fuel- not coffee and sugar but foods that nourish and support you.

The middle- Time for focus and action
    You may have a lot on your plate this time of year, more than normal.  And yet this season is the season of reflection and rest.  Be very mindful to add on only things you really love.  We are not creating Hallmark movies here, we are living in the real world. 
    Set little blocks or spaces of time for yourself.  Set your timer, work in segments.  Having little pausing points of the day keeps your day from becoming a giant blur.  Set an intention for your drive to work,  give yourself 42 minutes to go outside and walk, set your timer for 30 minutes to call someone you love.  If you are feeling overworked- take a mid day break to be still for 10 minutes.
   By starting with a clear focus and working in time segments it keeps you engaged in what you are working/playing on.  It gives you tiny beginning, middles and ends to each little project.  We all have plenty of time- we all have the same amount of time. The biggest gift you can give yourself is the gift of less on your list.  Be nice to yourself, add in only what you truly love, let go of what is on someone else's to-do list.

Start with the end- Completing and Pausing
    As tempting as it is to put more in your days and stay up later, I suggest the opposite.  Go to bed earlier.  Set a time for the completion of the day.  For me 9pm is the time.  At that time I'm done with doing.  I give myself 1 hour to just Be.  Washing my face, getting into my pjs, unplugging from electronics.  Now I have about 30-40 minutes of pure freedom.  My task list is not part of this time.  I might add in: deep breathing, reading, maybe yoga, meditation or being still.
    The ending of the day is the perfect time to reflect on moments of gratitude or inspirations from the past 24 hours.  I give myself time to pamper and set the stage for a deep and restful sleep.  Sometimes I do nothing- and that's perfect- the most important thing is to give yourself the breathing space at the end of the day to appreciate the day and to just be.

These are ideas I have cultivated over many years, but the basics are these:
      Create a Beginning- setting the intention and getting started
      Having a Middle- the meat of the sandwich is in the middle
      Every good story needs an ending- let yours be sweet and kind.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season, let your traditions be uplifting and your nights restful,