Just One Word

This year I’ve eschewed new year’s resolutions in favour of a single word. An intention. A theme for the year.

One of yoga’s key teachings is that what we focus on expands.  Like nurturing a seedling through regular watering, whatever we place the light of our awareness on grows.  

This is why a daily gratitude practice has the power to bring much positivity into our lives.  By focusing our awareness each day on a few things we’re already blessed with we begin to see blessings everywhere. We expand our experience of abundance.  We focus on the good and the good expands to fill our awareness and shift our perspective.

It works both in the positive and the negative. If we don’t consciously choose what to focus on, it’ll choose us. And in this complex, distracting and materialistic world, chances are our attention will be locked onto the things that are shouting the loudest, but that aren’t necessarily of true value to us.

When reflecting on 2016, one realisation that stood out for me that I want to carry into this new year is that I want to experience more ease and joy in each moment.  That’s the quality and experience I’d like to expand this year.

I’ve always been quite future oriented. “I’ll relax when I’ve done this”, “I’ll be happy once this is out of the way”, “I have this thing looming ahead which I’m nervous about therefore I can only allow myself to be 80% happy right now…I must maintain a 20% level of stress” etc etc…Sounds mental when I type it out but I’m sure we all do these sorts of mental bargainings with ourselves.  Most of our problems are in fact just thoughts in our minds. Completely powerless to actually impact our reality. Except, crucially, for the power we give them.

Well I don’t want to do that any more. I want to enjoy each moment as it arises.  My ability to start doing this more has been helped massively by 2016’s major lesson: let go of expectations. Shout-out to Brexit for nailing that one down. And Trump. Finally. This lesson’s been a long time coming.

So this year, sod whatever is in the diary for later in the day, or next week, or next month. Whether it’s “pleasant” or “unpleasant”, it doesn’t need to effect my enjoyment and ease in this moment.

In order to make space for more joy and ease in each moment I need to, well make space for it.  Which means simplifying.

Complexity creates stress, simplicity creates ease.  More than anything I want ease and joy this year, so my word is simple. Simple.

Simple. Simple. Simple. 🙂 

That’s not to say I’m going to avoid anything challenging, that would be boring. But I don’t want to create dis-ease for myself by complicating things, by trying to do too much at the cost of enjoying too little.  By putting pressure on myself to be at some imaginary point further ahead.  By comparing myself to others. By buying more shit I don’t need to distract myself from more important though less instantly gratifying matters. I have a long list of ways I complicate life unnecessarily.

Simple. Simple. Simple.

I want to slow down, simplify, to appreciate and enjoy more.

An inspired Christmas gift from a work colleague who clearly knows me well. I can fully indulge my fantasy of building a shack in the words and living the ultimate simple life 🙂

The beauty of a one word theme is that it’s easy to remember and it ties up a lot of separate intentions I have.

Something I’m drawn back to this year is minimalism; the art of living with just the things that you need and/or that bring you joy. This creates more space for all the actual important stuff, like relationships and experiences.

One intention around living more simply is to be more mindful of how I spend my money. I had a realisation over Christmas of just how fast we’re consuming more and more “stuff” at serious cost. Fast fashion is a prime example.  We’ve chosen quick and cheap over quality, durability and sustainability.  I realised I don’t even have the skill of identifying good quality clothing, or even where to find it!

As a first step to simplifying I’ve put a stop to all non essential purchases so I can slow down and see what and why I’m driven to buy “stuff” and whether that stuff is actually likely to add any value, to simplify my life or bring joy. In just a week or so I’m already  appreciated and noticing the many things already in my life and at my disposal. And saving money!

If you had to pick one word for the year what would it be?

 

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.