January is replete with messages on how to improve yourself with new exercise routines, meditation/yoga courses, and dieting/weight loss advice. Of course, we know from experience and from the data that traditional New Year’s resolutions often last less than the month in which they were made. But year after year people jump on board and try to make some change they have decided is a good idea for growth and wellbeing.
I don’t blame you for jumping on the New Year bandwagon. I use January as a time to review and renew my commitment to not drinking for the month, hoping it will stick for longer as alcohol no longer serves me in any positive way, particularly as I get older. Of course, I have long ago made a regular, non-negotiable routine of exercise, yoga, meditation, and healthy eating for pleasure. No mad dash of it in January is necessary.
Change Your Life in 30 Days?
However, if you’ve been tempted by the January “change your life in 30 days” madness, it’s important to note that the mind is deeply conditioned by the messages it gets from the media and from people trying to sell you on their program or product. Notice what pops up on your social media feed and on your Google ads. It is frightening to notice how fast a thought in your head becomes an ad on your screen. Sometimes I just talk to my husband about something I’m thinking of doing or buying and an ad pops up. Of course, I probably put something in my search box related to it, but it does feel like the internet is listening to you.
Instead of the usual January routine of impermanent change, what I am suggesting at the beginning of the year is to try a different strategy. I suggest listening to your heart instead of listening to your head (or your social media). In some Asian cultures, people point to their heart as to where their mind resides. And, as you might imagine, you get a very different response from this area of your body about what you need to do and think.
The Heart Houses the Mind
In Chinese Medicine, the heart is classified as the most important organ. This is not only because the heart keeps you alive but also because it is thought to transfer mental experiences to the body and is responsible for your mental clarity and emotional balance which are fundamental to well-being. In short, the heart is the link between the mind (the brain) and the body. One of the basic concepts in Chinese medical theory is ‘The Heart houses the Mind’, that is, there is an inextricable connection between a healthy heart and a sound mind. This connection extends to the point where the words ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ can be used interchangeably. (Professor Man Fong Mei, Clinical Director at the AcuMedic Clinic)*
In my Energy Medicine Yoga classes this month, there is a focus on the Winter/Water element. It is the season for going within–resting, restoring, and listening. To that end, I am asking students to participate in an exercise that helps them listen to their hearts more regularly. The exercise, called One Hundred Gifts from the Heart, is from the book Your Body Will Show You the Way by Ellen Meredith. It is a very simple exercise that I recently started using, and it has had a profound impact on my ability to navigate some difficult relationships and circumstances in my life.
One Hundred Gifts from the Heart
To do the exercise, place both hands over your heart and imagine your breath moving in and out of the heart center. Then, ask your heart for one gift. Accept whatever comes to mind without judging it or bargaining for something better. Thank your heart for the gift and then, over the next day or two, unpack the significance and potential of that gift for you. If you don’t immediately understand, just stay open to learning and getting new insight. When you are ready, after a day or two, repeat the process and receive another gift. Let this process be a practice you do over several months until you have received one hundred gifts from your heart! Make sure to track the gifts and your insights and experiences in a journal. Your heart has the power to take you on unexpected journeys, one gift at a time.
Helping You to Listen
Now is the time to listen for the whisperings of the heart. If you want to release 2023 and create a more connected, loving 2024, choose to be guided differently and see what happens. If you’d like to join a community that is undertaking this practice, join me on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Central Time for an Energy Medicine Yoga class. We start TODAY!!! If you miss today, you can still get the recording all week, even if you sign up late. Go here for the registration link https://tasting-mindfulness.square.site/.
Wishing you peace, joy, and contentment in the New Year!
*Taken from A Report on the Event held at The Forum, AcuMedic Centre, 5th October 2013