Making space for 2018

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By Uma Sanghvi

Uma Sanghvi is an anxiety-relief coach. She uses trauma-informed techniques to help people overcome anxiety, stress and worry. 

 

Sugar cookies. Pumpkin pie. Peppermint hot chocolate everywhere.

I’m stuffed. How about you?

When I think of the holidays, I think of being full. And not just with food. There’s an excess of things to buy, parties to attend, cards to write. The house is literally filled up with family, gifts, decorations and food.

It can be overwhelming.

This year, what if you looked at December in a revolutionary new way? As a time to shed what’s no longer needed in favor of some literal and figurative breathing room.

It’s an opportunity to pull out some weeds and prepare the soil for planting the seeds of a happy 2018.

In December, could you let go of some things that are no longer serving you? What magic could happen if you let go of one habit, one commitment or one thing that’s not in service of your highest self?

If this sounds promising to you, start by setting an intention for this month to let go of that which isn’t serving you any longer. Take a moment now to close your eyes and focus your thoughts. Let the universe know: I’m clearing space for new blessings to flow into my life in the new year.

There’s a sparkling, new energy at the start of each year – and enjoying that gift means having the space to actually receive it. Here’s how.

  1. Listen to your intuition

Before you dive into action, let’s get clear on what exactly you want from this brand new chapter of your life that is the year 2018.

We spend most of our time up in our heads, overthinking our lives into oblivion.

But mental analysis is a limited intelligence that is meant for things like building a bridge or choosing the best route to the store. When it comes the the big stuff in life – go with your gut, not your head.

In the Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz writes: “Go inside and listen to your body. Because your body will never lie to you. Your mind will play tricks, but the way you feel in your heart, in your gut, is the truth.”

Intuition is expressed through the body as physical sensations; think of the knot in your stomach that means fear or lightness in your heart that means joy.

Start by doing a body scan and connecting deeply to the visceral felt-sense of having a body. Feel the life force energy within.

Once you’ve filled your entire body with conscious awareness, feel the three dimensional space of your heart. It might help to put one hand over your heart and feel the contact. This is one of the wisdom centers of your body, and you can gently ask it for guidance.

Bonus: Click here to access to a 5-minute meditation that will guide you through these steps and connect you with your intuition.

  1. Discover your goal

When you feel connected to your heart, ask a question of your higher self.

What would bring me the greatest joy in the new year?

Simply wait. There’s no pressure to hear an answer. The same way you “listened” to your body during the body scan, just practice listening within.

If your mind chatters away (I already know what I want! I should be working right now! My toe hurts!), simply notice those thoughts and decide to come back to the sensations of the body. Not thinking – just feeling.

When your higher self speaks to you, you will feel it.

For me, it’s often the next day (the next morning, as I’m waking up) that I get an intuitive “hit” that answers my question from the day before. So just let the answer come in it’s own time.

Trust the messages you receive from this part of you. When you do have an answer, write it down in the form of a goal. For example: plant a garden, start a business, vacation in Italy, learn karate, quit my job, read a book a month, etc.

Write down your goal on a piece of paper and put it in a location that you see every day (refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, etc.)

If you need some help with this, click here for a short meditation that will guide you through this step.

  1. Let go of one habit

How will it feel to accomplish your goal? Be with that feeling state as you ask yourself: what habit do I need to give up in order to make space for this goal to be realized?

Here is an example from my own life: when I wake up in the morning, I often reach for my phone before getting out of bed. I check email, Facebook and Instagram. It’s not a behavior that serves me at all. In fact it stresses me out.

We all know the importance of having a nourishing morning ritual, so I’d really like to change this habit. Phone addiction is so prevalent in our world that I sometimes forget how bad it actually feels. It disrupts my focus and eats up my time.

Whether it’s giving up sugar, setting boundaries for work hours (not overworking), stopping at one glass of wine or spending less time binging on shows – whatever habit you decide to let go of, make a concrete plan for giving it up over the course of the month. Think of this is the most life-changing holiday gift to yourself.

Find an accountability partner or therapist/coach/etc. who will be your support team.

If the prospect of breaking a long-standing habit during the stress of the holidays makes you cringe – that’s OK! Just identify the habit you want to let go of it. Don’t put pressure on yourself to tackle it this month. Instead, make a concrete plan for learning about how to let go of it. Read articles, educate yourself and get inspired to take action. No pressure.

Please note: the idea is NOT to give up pleasure. Real pleasure enriches life and can certainly include sugar, work, TV or anything else. In her book The Life Organizer, Jennifer Louden writes, “It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes the difference. You can eat a piece of chocolate as a holy wafer of sweetness – a real comfort – or you can cram an entire chocolate bar into your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself – a shadow comfort.”

  1. Let go of one commitment

In our culture, we wear busyness like a badge of honor. Doing too much is an easy way to shield ourselves from being present. And yet, real transformation can only take place in the present moment. For your 2018 goal to be realized, consider that saying NO to busyness allows for fresh ideas, energy, people and situations to make their way to you.

Remember that your intuition speaks through your physical body. The wisdom in the body is far greater than the wisdom of the logical mind. Do this exercise and let this sink in: think of something you really dislike doing (for example – going to the dentist or the DMV) and notice how “NO” feels in your body.

Now think of something you love doing (getting a massage, sitting on the beach) and notice how “YES” feels in your body.

Now look at your calendar for the month for the month December. Go on – look at it.

Consider each commitment you’ve made one by one, and feel how your body responds to each one – not your mind. Can you feel the YES or NO for each event?

Pick one of the NO’s and cancel it. Now. Just one.

Notice any resistance from your mind (But I always go to the neighbors party! What will they think?) and remind yourself that you are not your thoughts. Delete one committment from your calendar and enjoy the feeling of creating open space in your life.

You’re on a mission to accomplish something exciting in 2018. So see this as practice for saying “no” to commitments in the future that don’t serve you.

When you create room in your life (and time, space, energy), it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s the space in which transformation takes place.

  1. Clear your space

In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo writes, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

When our space is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, life can feel stagnant.

To usher in the bright, fresh energy of the new year, think about chucking something that is no longer giving you joy. This may sound strange, but December is the perfect time to do some “spring cleaning”. Tap into the springy energy of newness and growth, then choose a place in your home that is stuffed and crying out for help.

Don’t get overwhelmed: pick ONE small project. For example, this December I’m tackling books and magazines. For some reason I accumulate stacks of magazines everywhere. This weekend I collected a bag full of books and sold them to Half-Price Books. I love the feeling of open space on my bookshelves! It’s an invitation for new stories and adventures and to flow into my life.

Remember – one project. No overwhelm. Examples include: tackling that one drawer where random things always get stuffed or taking down the art on your walls that you no longer enjoy.

Commit to giving two hours to this task over the course of the month. Schedule it all at once or break it up. Pull out your calendar now and schedule it!

Tip: As you clear space in your home, do it with the intention of making room for new blessings to come into your life. Intention is power!

* * *

What a revolutionary way to end this year!

If you’ve followed through on these five steps – congratulations on winning December. While everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, you are slowly and steadily making room for something new and wonderful to unfold in your life.

The last thing you need is more overwhelm — so let this exercise be about feeling lighter.

And if all you do is step one and two – connecting with your intuition and identifying what would make you truly happy in 2018 (click here for a short meditation that will gently guide you through the first two steps – then congratulate yourself.

Knowing what you want is the first step to getting it.

Remember – your goal came from the heart, so let this goal be your north star as you start 2018. When your actions are aligned with the wisdom of your heart, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

Happy holidays!

 

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