After three days of full on festivities and family time, I’m just emerging from three days of silence combined with an end of year review and a new year visioning retreat which has been delightfully recharging.
I’ve developed and refined this process over many years and have now crafted a sequence of core practices that restore me to zero after the creative fires of recent projects have run their course.
Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “I must reduce myself to zero…”
My interpretation of this is when I’m in the deepest state of presence and alignment; I feel positively empty, spacious and free, and experience a natural sense of joy and enthusiasm for the potential of all that has yet to manifest.
It’s my intention always for this to be my default setting as it’s such a vibrant state of being that, amongst all other things, it enables me to complete the year consciously and prepare for the next creative cycle to begin.
There are 3 phases to my end of year review process:
- Phase 1: Rest
- Phase 2: Review
- Phase 3: Vision
Today I’m inspired to share phases 1 and 2 with you; I’ll write about phase 3 in the next post.
Ideally, for you to gain the most out of this process, you’ll give yourself a couple of hours on your own and arrange for there to be no interruptions or distractions.
However, if your current reality doesn’t allow for that, simply contract or expand the time you spend to suit your individual circumstances.
Phase 1: Rest
I don’t know about you but having been brought up to work hard and value being busy as if it were some kind of achievement, it took me a while to release that conditioning and benefit from making it a genuine priority in my life to rest when I need to.
A conscious approach to resting means that you stop and recharge at every level. It’s no good resting your body if your mind is still racing; thinking is not relaxing!
Plus, from a creative point of view, it’s essential to empty yourself of thoughts on a regular basis in order to refresh your ideas, just like you cleanse your body of toxins when you do a detox and emerge feeling renewed.
- Stop: yes, spending time in stillness IS a valid and essential component of living consciously and creatively. In fact, stillness is a quality of your true nature which is why it eventually feels like coming home to yourself.
- Empty: letting your thoughts pass through your mind rather than losing yourself in their content is a deeply recharging practice and ultimately creates space for fresh insights to arise.
- Listen: close your eyes and focus on listening. Expand your range of listening as if you’re stretching to hear a distant mountain stream in an alert yet relaxed way. Notice the background hum of silence.
- Immerse: act as if you can dissolve yourself into the silence and merge with the source of all sound. In reality, there is no separation; this process simply guides you to release all that obscures your awareness of this ultimate state of awakened being.
- Surrender: let go of everything at every level as deeply as you can at this time. Absorb yourself in being rather than doing, open your heart and accept everything just as it is; including yourself – in fact, especially yourself!
Phase 2: Review
I’ve discovered that when I start my end of year review by taking the time to rest and recharge first, the review phase is more insightful and authentic because I’m approaching it with a clear mind and an open heart.
Once I reach this point, I then reflect on each area of importance in my life and assess them individually.
For example: spiritual practice; health and well-being; connections with loved ones; leisure, pleasure and fun; house and garden; personal projects; and work priorities.
- Reflect on what’s truly important in your life or review your existing list of personal and professional areas of significance.
- Write in your journal about each one or do a mind-map to give you a one page visual summary of the key components that have real meaning for you.
- Review what no longer serves you in each area and explore what you’re ready to let go of at this time.
- This stage in the process is likely to include releasing old patterns of thought and behaviour such as feeling it’s “not OK” to claim the space you need to do your creative work and then wondering why you’re not making tangible progress.
- Finally, identify and write about three to five things in each area that you’re happy about from the last 12 months.
- In my work priorities review, for example, I wrote about the process of creating and launching this blog and the new JuliaMcCutchen.com website. I also described how much I loved teaching the first 6 week Conscious Writing online course live by video. And it’s been deeply inspiring to make new connections with people who are doing wonderful work in the world.
By this stage, having completed phase 1 and 2 of the whole process, the likelihood is that you’ll be feeling fully conscious of where you’re at right now.
Hopefully, you’ll also be in a clear and positive state ready to craft your vision for the New Year and the next phase of your creative unfolding. More on that next time…
For now, I’d love to know your reaction to this conscious and creative approach which encourages you to rest before you do your end of year review. What are your favourite ways to review the completion of the year? Please share your comments and ideas below.