The #1 New Year’s Resolution We Can All Use
Resolve to be Different
I spent the last week of December doing a retreat. I shut down most of my activities and took time to just absorb the year that came to a close, and I also began to look ahead at the year about to begin.
A “retreat” is a time of many revelations. I designed my own retreat, so I firmly believe a retreat can be anything positive we want it to be.
Whatever the kind of retreat one chooses to take, it is a time to go within, to look within, and to find and sit with the treasures and shadows that reside within each of us.
My retreat focused on working through some of my fears. This work was a focus for me in 2015, and it will continue to be a focus in 2016.
My practice, as a yogi, centers around moving through my fears. The breathing and asana or posture part of my practice helps me move through my physical sensation of fear.
My meditation practice helps me move through my mental perceptions of what makes me feel afraid or uncertain.
Fear is Not Everything About Us
Fear is such a great part of our existence. It is how we survive.
We identify what things to fear and we avoid it, in our attempts to stay safe and to remain alive and well and protected from potential harm.
However, this survival mechanism is not always helpful. In our modern lives where threats of physical harm aren’t always present and living in a society where survival is not a constant life-and-death struggle, staying in a defensive and hyper-alert mode can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing, not to mention our relationships with others.
I live in a safe community, surrounded by people who are kind and compassionate. I live a life that is humble but filled with all the resources I need to live well and stay healthy and strong. This makes it hard to imagine why fear has any place in my life.
The reality is that fear is just a part and parcel of who we are, it is in our make-up, and it is not something we can simply jettison or ignore.
Instead, it is something we need to acknowledge and be aware of and work through.
The Consequences of Living in Fear
If we do not remain aware of how fear affects us, we can cause lots of suffering to ourselves and others. We can easily remain in reactive states, long past their useful spans. We feel constantly under threat and respond by fighting or fleeing or freezing, and these reactions are not necessarily the healthiest solutions to whatever we face in our daily lives.
We might “fight” with good people, people we love, people with whom we ought to collaborate and create things for positive change in the world.
We might “flee” from good opportunities that we ought to seize, opportunities that can be healing and empowering for ourselves and others.
We might “freeze” in situations where we can take some action to alleviate the suffering of others, choosing to shut down during situations or events when we can prevent harm and the escalation of tensions or conflicts.
These fear-based reactions affect so many things negatively, because we shut down the possibility of positive resolutions, and we may even perpetuate negative situations. All the more critical that we be mindful of what we do out of fear and strive to counter our fearfulness.
Facing Our Fears, Choosing Peace and Love
It is imperative that we understand what fear feels like, in our bodies and minds. Being aware of the sensation of fear means that we are able to realize when our motivations and intentions or choices stem from a place of fear within us.
Practicing to choose differently, in each circumstance that stimulates fear, is the key to dealing with and moving through fear. We can pause, and let the sensation of fear never dictate what we do or how we react.
We can choose to act with love, not react out of fear. We can choose to act in ways that foster peace and joy, in the short-term and long-term.
We can go against our programming, and we can make a new habit of talking through things with others, approaching things calmly and patiently and with as much neutrality as possible.
We can resist fighting. We can resist running away. We can resist falling into paralysis and freezing when we feel fearful.
One small change is all it takes. One new way of doing things and approaching things is something we can all try to do, while keeping an attitude that is overwhelmingly positive instead of fearful.
And the new year is the perfect time to commit to moving through fear in a positive manner.
I can imagine a world in which we all deal with fear differently. That world is a peaceful and happy and safe place. It is a place where love gets to truly shine and run the show.
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