4 Ways to Bring Balance to Your Life in the New Year

As the tides turn and we enter into a new year, many of us feel inspired to find more balance in our lives. Opening like a flower, we breathe in and out: inhaling dreams, exhaling action, our visions for the future float softly in the air. Guiding practices provide useful direction during periods of change like this. Since we know that true evolution comes from within, and manifests outward in energy, here are some offerings that we can use to nurture balance within ourselves to create a powerful 2014.

Opening and closing like flowers, or rolling back and forth like waves in the ocean, we are constantly moving to the tune of nature. Cultivating practices to stay balanced in our life’s flow works to empower us to reach our dreams.

Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

Ritual of daily gratitude

I remember seeing an Oprah show years ago based around practicing daily gratitude. What I took from it was the idea of making a list of 5 things for which we’re grateful every night. They can be as simple as “I am grateful for having a bed to sleep in,” or “I am grateful for the wonderful, warm cup of tea I had this morning.” Being grateful is one of the best ways to feel grounded and relaxed in our everyday lives: cultivating a sense of gratitude is known to increase our overall happiness. It broadens our sense of perspective, and puts a positive spin on whatever else is happening. In the new year, consider creating a nightly ritual of gratitude: invest in a special journal, or use a well-worn diary, and take some time each night before sleeping to write down the moments during the day that elicit gratitude within. Inner balance will come as we shift our thoughts from anxiety to appreciation.

Celebrating the new year with friends is something I’m personally very grateful for! This is something that went on my nightly Gratitude List recently.

Photo by Greg Goodman/www.adventuresofagoodman.com

Authentic creative expression

People frequently express to me a desire to be more creative in their everyday lives. I believe that we are all artists at heart — while we don’t all have the natural talent of, say, Picasso, everyone can benefit from exploring their creative side. Creative expression can shake us out of our analytic thinking, and let our spirits run free for a while. On this front, I’ve been practicing meditative drawing for a while. Centered in listening to my intuition, the experience focuses on enjoying the moment, rather than placing importance on the final result. This works really well for music, too — playing an instrument for the sheer pleasure of hearing sounds allows us to revel in the present moment, and create balance between the right and left sides of our brain.

A drumming circle with friends (or, strangers!) is a great way to explore music meditation. Letting ourselves be carried away with the beats feels freeing.

Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

Grounded goals

This time of year is usually when people resolve to lose weight, or improve their fitness. I challenge us to let go of either of those aspirations, and instead focus on how we want to feel: happy, free, and energized, or some such combination of positive emotions. By shifting our focus toward how we feel, we can get in touch with the emotional (and physical) needs we’re seeking to meet internally. It is from this place where we will reach our goal of feeling better in our bodies in a way that is sustainable in the long-run.

Balance will come when we notice — and nurture — how we feel. Grounding practices like meditation, Qi Gong, and yoga can help us connect with how we truly want to feel. Our goals are innately connected with feelings we want to experience: whether we seek to feel supported, challenged, stimulated, loved, or any other mixture from our vast emotional spectrum, our goals are simply ways in which to achieve these feelings.

One of my yearly goals is to improve my photography. Through photography, I feel connected with other people, challenged, and recognized. While we may have different goals, we share the same emotional needs.

Photo by Sachie Tsuyuki.

Body positivity

On that note, let’s use this transitional time to embrace who we are — in our bodies, minds, and spirits. Rather than accept society’s ridiculously misguided sense of beauty that is fueled by capitalism, how about choosing to love ourselves exactly as we are? You are perfect; I am perfect; we are all perfect. Period. Creating balance in the rest of our lives starts with having compassion and empathy for our authentic selves. Staying true to ourselves and our innate worth is the path to feeling peaceful. Always remember your own beauty and self-worth:

You are beautiful. For real. (…)

You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. No one expects you to be perfect and messing up is good (and you will a lot) so you might as well lean into it and appreciate the lessons that you will learn.

 

Here’s to a healthy 2014, bursting with balance, beauty, gratitude, and giving. May all of our wishes come true throughout the year, as we dance freely in the presence of our authentic glory.