In these early days and weeks of 2017 we are presented with a clean slate, a fresh and expansive year stretching out before us. Susan O’Regan, Mindfulness and Personal Development Group Trainer and Facilitator asks what is our hope, vision or intention for this brand New Year?
January is a good time to sit quietly and reflect on the year that’s been. It is also a time of letting go and making space in our lives for something new to emerge. But before we welcome in the new, this time of year allows us an opportunity to ‘take stock’ and really appreciate what we already have in our lives.
To set an intention is like shooting an arrow. It has direction. Something has been set in motion. Unlike a defined goal or traditional resolution which we can tend to fixate on, an intention is simply an internal guide, a ‘felt-sense’ of what we want to encourage more of in our lives. A good way to set your own intention for this year may be to spend some time alone, sitting quietly. Choose a place where you will not be interrupted or distracted. Turn off your mobile. Close your eyes, deliberately slow your breathing down and really try to tune in to your body and to your senses. Try not to rush this. There can be no quick fix! Spend a few moments reflecting on what it is we are already grateful for in our lives. See if we can really ‘savour’ these people, places, feelings, sensations, sights, smells or sounds that come to mind that make our everyday lives more content and happy.
Then, without thinking too much about it, ask yourself the question “what is my intention for 2017?” When our mind and body are in sync with each other the answer generally comes more from a deeper, heart-felt place rather than from the rational, cognitive mind. Your answer may even surprise you! Your intention may come in the form of a sentence or simply a word or image and it may be useful to have a notebook and pen beside you to jot down what comes to mind during this reflection.
Whereas goals can be very specific and time bound, for example, “I want to lose two stone in the next six months”, an intention is broader and somehow gentler, for example, “my intention is to cultivate self-care and well-being in my life this year”. Our intention is an area that we can build on throughout the year, once it has been formulated and set in motion.
Gratitude and intention are core practices in Mindfulness training. Mindfulness is something that, when practised regularly and over time, can help us with managing depression, stress and assisting with many other areas of difficulty in our lives. While Mindfulness is not a panacea for all our problems, I believe that, especially when combined with Compassion Practices and Personal Development techniques, it can have a transformative effect and can open up a gateway to a more authentic and joyful life, no matter what our circumstances.
I have been running Personal Development Programmes for many years as a Youth and Community Worker and an Adult Education Trainer/Facilitator and in recent years have begun introducing Mindfulness techniques into an eight-week Personal Development Programme I facilitate called ‘Begin Again’, with very positive outcomes. My interest in and passion for Mindfulness continues to grow, as it has provided me with a support that never fails me during those inevitable periods of personal stress and difficulty that we all experience at one time or another in our lives. This is why I feel so strongly motivated to pass on this practical and accessible tool to others.
Recently qualifying in Mindfulness Studies at postgraduate level has further enthused me to develop and provide ‘Mindfulness in Everyday Life’ drop in sessions once a month. These themed sessions are facilitated by me at Skibbereen Community and Family Resource Centre in Field’s Car Park, Skibbereen on the first Wednesday of every month during 2017 at 7.30pm. January’s session was aptly themed ‘Setting Intentions’, whilst February’s theme is called ‘Beginners Mind’ and runs on Wednesday February 1. Please feel free to phone me with any questions or for more information on 087 2700572.