It is my hope that your holiday season was an enjoyable one. If in any way it was a difficult time for you, I pray for you; strength, hope and better days to come.
I take this opportunity to thank you for your support during the previous year and to wish you a Happy New Year! May 2021 bring you joy, peace and every good thing that you would want for yourself. May you accomplish and even surpass all of your goals for this year. Whatever you want for yourself in 2021, you can achieve. You just have to be willing to do the work, because success is never void of hard work. So let’s dig in and make 2021 an awesome one!
I have never been one to set New Year’s resolutions, at least not in any serious way. I’m sure most of us can attest to failed New Year’s resolutions. We begin with a lot of fervor and excitement but how long does it take before that fervor begin to wane? Next we have forgotten all about our resolutions.
What I prefer is setting an intention. Every time I get on my yoga mat, I am encouraged by my yoga instructor to set an intention for my practice. I must admit I struggled with this at first. Half the time I could not decide what my intention was. This could be in part because I did not clearly understand what it meant to set an intention.
As it turns out, an intention is different from a tangible goal. It comes from the heart; it is something intangible that you keep in focus. It should be in alignment with your values. It can help inform your goals and choices. I see it as somewhat of a building block. “It is something you want to align with in your life. It’s an aim, a purpose, or attitude you’d be proud to commit to”, says Melissa Eilser who is a certified life coach.
I have decided to not only use this practice of setting an intention on my mat but to use it off my mat as well. That is why for 2021 I have decided to set intentions. An intention can be a statement, a phrase or a word. I prefer a word.
The word breathe has been coming up a lot for me lately. One of the main aspects of yoga is that it encourages you to breathe. There is something magnificent about the breath, don’t you think? When I think of the breath, I think of God. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). When I think of my breath, I think of the breath of God Himself, pulsing through my body. When I think of my breath, I feel close to God.
Unfortunately though, I have come to recognize that I don’t always breathe. Unconsciously I spend a lot of time holding my breath, not breathing properly or deeply. Up until about three years ago I existed almost solely in survival mode. I believe this is where this unconscious restriction of the breath came from. When we do not take time to breathe, in every sense, are we truly living?
According to author Alex Korb, breathing is the most important bodily function and it is closely tied to the limbic system. This is the part of the brain responsible for emotional and behavioral responses. He says that changing your breathing is one of the quickest ways to improve your emotional state. It leads to feelings of optimism and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Slow deep breathing stimulates the brain toward parasympathetic activity such as resting and relaxation. The opposite to the parasympathetic system is the sympathetic system which controls our fight –or –flight instinct.
On my 45th birthday a friend wished for me wholeness. The word wholeness deeply resonated with me. For me wholeness does not mean the absence of pain and imperfections but rather living from a place of healing and acceptance in all facets of my life.
It does not mean denying my brokenness or weaknesses but rather acknowledging them, surrendering them to my Heavenly Father who promises that His power works best in weakness. It is when I am weak, that I do everything completely in His power (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). He also promises to “heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds” [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow], Ps147:3.
Another word which resonates with me is wholehearted. Living and loving with my whole heart. Brene Brown writes that living wholeheartedly is to live from a place of worthiness. “It means cultivating the courage compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough…yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
Breathe, wholeness and wholehearted; they are all intertwined. I cannot live wholeheartedly without learning to breath and experiencing wholeness. I cannot experience wholeness without experiencing my breath; without truly breathing. I cannot experience wholeness without truly experiencing the breath of life which pulses within me and from Whom it came.
When I surrender to my Heavenly Father my pain, imperfections, weaknesses and brokenness and the exhaustion which has kept me stifled and restricted my breathing; then I can breathe deeply and freely. I become free to experience wholeness and live wholeheartedly. These are my intentions for 2021, breathe, wholeness and wholehearted.
If you have not already set your intentions or made resolutions for the new year, I encourage you to join me in setting some intentions. What words or concepts have been coming up for you lately? What have been resonating with you? What are your values? What attitudes and behaviors do you want to align your life with this year? Nothing comes to mind?
Set yourself up in a quiet space where you can be comfortable and free of distractions. Take some deep breaths. Take as many as you need to in order to feel relaxed. Forget about the items on your to-do-list or the next thing you need to rush off to, or what went wrong today. Just relax. Once you feel relaxed, calm and centered, allow yourself to ponder the aforementioned questions. Write down what comes to your mind, but remember to let your heart lead you. Choose the one thing that resonates with you most. If more than one thing deeply resonates with you then choose more than one and set your intention or intentions for the year ahead.
Let’s continue the conversation. I would love to know if you found this article helpful in anyway and hear what are your intentions for 2021. Please leave me a comment and let me know. Do share this with a friend who you think may find it helpful. Thank you for reading. 😊