The end of the year is a traditional time for reflection, but we don’t need to wait until the end of the year. We can do this on a daily basis or at the end of any project.
Self-study or svadhyaya in Sanskrit is one of the 5 niyamas or personal observances which form part of the “8 fold path” as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and should be performed regularly to help us on our path to samadhi or enlightenment.
Set aside 10 minutes of quiet time, grab yourself a cuppa, a pen and paper or journal, then sit comfortably, close your eyes for a few breaths and feel into your body. Just notice how you feel. Now open your eyes and let’s begin…
(If you are doing this exercise on a daily basis you only need to list 1 thing rather than 3 or more.)
List 3 or more achievements or things that went well for you this year.
These don’t have to be big achievements. If you have a busy life with young kids it can be an achievement just to get a load of washing done and have dinner cooked by nightfall (I remember this all too well!)
Whatever your success, think about how it came to be. Was it through sheer grit and hard work? If so, congratulate yourself for your tenacity. Or perhaps everything just fell into place effortlessly? Sometimes we think we just got lucky, but when we delve deeper, the success is because we’ve surrounded ourselves with a good team, we’ve had faith in ourselves and have allowed ourselves to “be in flow” so that even when we are working hard it feels effortless. Do you notice a common theme in your achievements in the way they came about?
List 3 lessons learned or opportunities for growth.
Let’s face it, things don’t always turn out as planned. Sometimes we stuff up and sometimes life just throws us a curve ball, but rather than looking at these instances as failures, reframe them as something positive: an opportunity for personal growth.
For any instances that were out of your control, remember that you can control the way you react or respond. What did you learn from your reaction? Can you choose to react differently next time the situation presents itself? Maybe you reacted appropriately and you’ve learnt that you can respond well to crises.
List 3 or more things you did to help someone else.
We are all part of a greater whole and by helping someone else we not only foster a sense of community but also increase our self-worth by knowing we can have a positive impact. Think laterally – it could be helping a stranger carry their groceries, cooking a meal for someone, helping your child with their homework, taking time to be with a friend in their time of need or just making someone laugh when they most needed it. Our positive actions often reach far wider than we ever imagine.
List 3 or more things that have brought you joy.
This could be something as simple as playing with your pet dog or cat, spending time with family, witnessing your child’s achievements, tending to your garden and watching it flourish or helping someone… the list is endless. Jot down as many as you can think of.
Now that you have brought these joyous memories to mind, notice how you feel in your body. Do you feel differently now than you did at the start of this exercise?
Look at your list of things that bring you joy and see if you can do any of these on a daily basis (remember all the simple things). Place this list on your fridge or inside your cupboard door to remind yourself how simple it can be to bring more joy into your life and on the days when it feels like everything is going to sh*t, do something from your list. Think of it as your daily survival guide!