setting 2016 intentions via the Art of Attention

We leisurely lounged on our family room couch New Year’s Eve: watching football, eating corn chips and queso, and searching for gym equipment on craigslist. (You’d think it would be a lot easier to get replies when you’re willing to pay cash and pick up ASAP. But that’s all another post.)

Also in the scene: my deck of Art of Attention healing cards.  These cards, inspired by positive affirmations and yoga poses, have found their way into my daily routine for the past few months. I pull a card every morning to consider throughout the day, even sometimes using the word on a selected card as a mantra for my yoga practice that week, also .

The deck came with another approach — a card reading where you considered a situation in your life, then picked three cards: one signifying the past, one the present and one the future. I pulled three cards with this reading technique in mind, considering the transition from old year to new.

art of attention

I had some initial thoughts, but my awareness settled quickly on the “future” reading: responsibility. I never thought myself as one who doesn’t take accountability for their life. I ground myself regularly in being in tune with what actions I’m taking in working towards defined goals and outcomes. But in certain circumstances, I found myself derailed by paralyzing fear — mostly of failure, but also of it not being exactly as I wanted it to be. Of it not being perfect.

Perfectionism is a tendency that has done me no good over the years. Striving for 100% is exhausting. It’s caused me to misplace my time and energy in stagnant moments of inactivity. Funny how when striving for 100%, I ended up at 0%. My drive for perfection actually lead me having nothing.

There’s a lot of room between 0% and 100%.  And when you find yourself too close to zero on a regular basis, especially in the things that matter most, there’s room for improvement. So what’s left to do?

BE BETTER.

This year, I am resolving to take responsibility to be better in those moments when the fear of striving for perfection haunts me. And from my experience in the past twelve months, here are more initial ways to embrace this:

Be a better family member. Above all, a better spouse. A better daughter and sister. A better dog mom. Also a better “tribe” member. These relationships get muddled when I get lost in anxiety. My ability to serve these people in my life to my fullest capacity gets compromised. And that’s just not okay any longer.

Be a better yoga teacher.   My teaching has grown incredibly since 2012, but there are aspects of what I’ve trained in that I’ve been afraid to bring to my classes — simply because I didn’t want to look like a fool if I screwed up the concepts upon delivery. No more of that ridiculousness. There’s too much goodness to share in this practice to let my insecurities hold me back from passing them along to my students.

Be better to myself. Anyone battling with negative self-talk gets asked “if you were talking to a good friend, would you say those things you say to yourself to them?”  Of course not, but that hasn’t kept me from treating myself like I’m unworthy of my own love. This may be my biggest opportunity for growth in the new year.  Early steps in this process include spending the next few weeks revisiting the recordings of my teacher’s The Enlightened Life Series with the Aspen Center for Living Peace. I re-watched the first session Sunday night, and in it, Rod asks the participants, “in what way can you be kinder to yourself?”  Perfect timing to hear that question again. Now to find ways to answer it…

But there’s an important differentiation to make here. The point is to be better — not perfectA personal mantra of mine has been “strive for excellence, not  perfection” to counteract the concern of never reaching 100%. This resolution can’t be muddled with “I’m not being ‘better’ enough” — talk about a lack of understanding of the point. It’s my responsibility to “be better” and accept how that looks in that exact moment.

As though the Facebook algorhythm knew this all was coming, it put a post that fellow healthy living friend Bex shared on her Facebook feed, fully capturing what has been stewing in my head: This life is of yours is 100% your responsibility. And that’s a 100% I can work towards.


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