Looking Back on the Year: What Will You See?

posted in: Mindfulness | 0

Here we are, at the end of 2021, and in the immortal words of the Grateful Dead, what a long strange trip it’s been. But all that’s behind us now, and if there’s anything we learn in our mindfulness practice, it’s that we let go of all the stuff that’s behind us. Just let it go.

When I say that, some people may get the wrong impression. This last year has brought many changes and losses, and I’m not even remotely suggesting you forget about all that. An important part of mindfulness practice is using awareness to learn from the past. Being in the present moment means being willing to evaluate and make changes in our lives based on past experiences. This is how we grow, how we become wise, how we can help others. The end of the year is a great time for reflection, and we can reflect on this past year, while still letting it go.

I’m reminded of a quote from the writer, Anne Lamott who said: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.” In this context, mindfulness is a lot like faith.

Mindfulness means having an awareness of all the events and just being with them, knowing you cannot change the outcome. It means knowing, without a doubt, that this too shall pass. I like to say you can observe it with a gentle and kind curiosity, without the need to build a whole story around it, without any judgment about it whatsoever.

Life can be messy, and if there were ever a messy time in recent history, this would be it. So let’s un-messy it shall we, as we close this year and welcome in the new. I find it easier if I make this part of my journaling (a mindful practice). Here are some prompts that might spark ideas or reflections:

  • What were those sweet moments, both big and small, that made you smile?
  • What about those times that felt the heaviest? Yes, even those.
  • What are the things that you can find gratitude in right now?
  • What new challenges did you face and conquer?
  • How did you practice self-care in the past year?
  • What brought you joy and happiness this year?
  • What do you want to leave behind, to release, moving in to the new year?
  • How have you expressed yourself creatively?
  • Who have you enjoyed spending time with and how can you nurture that relationship?
  • What and who has inspired you?

A final thought: Just as reflecting on the past doesn’t exclude you from present moment awareness, planning for the future doesn’t either. Mindful planning just means not getting attached to the outcome. So, with courage and clarity, take the wisdom gained from past experiences to live a life of mindfulness and purpose.

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