I am not someone who runs at a new year with a massive quest for life changes. This has never been my thing. Mostly because, although we are returning to the light bit by bit each day, we are also steeped in winter; a time built into our life for solitude, introspection, quiet, and stillness.
New goals require the energy of fire which comes with the spring and summer seasons. By all means, create some new resolve for your year but also give yourself the necessary spaciousness for it to come in its own timing.
For the past few years, I've taken to choosing a word for my new year. Some have been spot on and quite helpful while others I had to abandon mid-year to make room for life happenings. I am not dogmatic about this word because it should help me move toward more life and I try to stay open to where that might come from.
When I conjure up this new word I take two things into account: everything the previous year brought and taught me and what I intend to stay anchored to in the next twelve months.
I take into consideration what I am interested in now, and if I dropped any need to prove myself in this new year, where would I give myself bountiful permission to go next?
I went in search of a word that balanced presence with growth, ease with effort, and that sweet spot I feel called to over and over that can look ahead but not mistake the future for potentially being better than this very moment I'm in. It would be easier to choose a sentence! But this is part of the challenge.
It doesn't matter what the word is to anyone but me. The word could be cryptic or a metaphor so long as when I see it, think it, remember it, I know what it's reminding me of or inviting me to do. When I think back on the past two years it's safe to say a word that allows for the unexpected would be a wise choice.
For the past few months I've been a student in a 200-hour yoga teacher training; something I gifted myself to have my own container for self-reflection and quite honestly, healing. Not healing from something that can be fixed or mended, but healing parts of me that are still swimming around in transition and re-orienting my life without my parents. It felt only natural that my word would come from this space.
I sought out yoga because it's wise, symbolic, and a practice. Three of my favorite things. While movement is one practice of yoga there are several others I connect with even more. Practices of breath, clear seeing, presence, dharma, and not surpassing the human experience in search of something more "spiritual." It doesn't get more spiritual than accepting and embracing the human experience.
My word comes from a practice called Shambhala. As quoted from this book,
"Shambhala teachings are not based on converting the world. The premise of the Shambhala vision is that in order to establish an enlightened society for others, we need to discover what inherently we have to offer the world...the essence of Shambhala or the essence of human bravery is refusing to give up on anything or anyone...We have the burden of helping this world but if we take this burden as a delight, we can actually liberate this world."
- Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
My word is brave.
Brave in the Shambhala vision means not being afraid of who you are; yourself, your True Self, and that at your core you are goodness.
If I Google the definition for brave, I don't resonate with what pops up. And yet this word is all over my life. It is the thing I am called to be, demonstrate, create, and defend over and over but it isn't fearlessness, audacity, or gutsy.
Brave is leaning in.
Brave is "Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process," as Brené Brown says.
Brave is not turning a blind eye or ear.
Brave is acceptance and compassion in action.
Brave is sitting in the muck.
Brave is choosing yourself.
Brave is knowing that, "What you love — what you long to do — is really, really important," as Tara Mohr reminds us.
Brave is saying goodbye before you're ready.
Brave is the burden and delight of liberating the world from unnecessary suffering.
And Brave is belonging wholeheartedly to yourself.
So yeah, my word is brave.
If this process inspires you then I hope you, too, will take some time to search for your word.