Let’s embrace the New Year as a blank canvas and a clean slate. To do that we have to release the past, accept what is, and reduce the stress that can cloud our realm of possibility. You may feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities — or the stressors — that lay ahead, and that’s ok. Here, we will provide you with inspiration so you can find the space to dream about the future. But first, let’s discuss stress.
Many of my clients are reporting chronic stress and anxiety. For some, they now accept this mental state as a baseline. Coming off the holiday season (where over 60% of people report being stressed), we continue to navigate the unknown pandemic variants, new protocols, and ever-present worries of illness: Am I going to get sick if I go to this concert? What if the person next to me on the plane is coughing? What will happen if the office closes down again? These constant stressors have caused our fight or flight response to go into overdrive.
Stress is actually an important survival tool — it’s the human instinct that allowed our ancestors to survive when they were in danger and needed all of the body’s adrenaline and resources to protect itself. Stress is a message that we need to shift, adapt, or protect ourselves. It’s the reason we have evolved as a human race.
However, many of the stressors today do not require an ongoing fight or flight response. We have to manage our stress by discerning which level of stress reaction is appropriate for a given situation. When we have too many stressors at once, our bodies and minds are unable to discern or adapt. This leads to a hyper-tense mode of operation, which triggers chronic anxiety, depression, fatigue, physical illness, and even disease or death.
To align with our natural state of wholeness, we have to practice ways to release stress and unclog our metaphorical arteries. Our lives depend on it. Accessing our state of wholeness and our natural wellbeing has become a trend, a desire so popular that we are targeted daily and even hourly (through marketing and social media) to seek remedies and promises of relief and wellness. Most of these well-packaged offerings are quick-fix solutions that do not lead to sustainable results.
I take a different path. It starts with the concept that we are naturally whole, naturally perfect; we have an inner nature that is harmonious and balanced. To believe this, we have to experience it, and to experience it, we have to find stillness. Stillness leads to a homecoming to the present moment, and this is where fresh ideas, solutions, and possibilities become clear.
In the present moment, we see that everything is ok. To this, someone might say, “Well, right now there is nothing wrong, but I still have 10 bills to pay, I have no job, and I have children who are struggling because of the pandemic.” Those situations may be real but there is still nothing wrong: there is either something to address and deal with or something to accept and own.
Guidelines for Discerning Stressors:
Step 1: Grab a piece of paper and write down everything that is a cause of stress or anxiety in your life.
Step 2: On a new piece of paper, make two columns: what you want to address and what you want to accept. Sort everything from your first list into these two buckets.
Step 3: In the “items to address” column, write down each step you need to take to get it done.
Step 4: In the “items to accept” column, write down how this will liberate you.
While there are many ways to find the present moment — a feeling of deep connection during a conversation with a friend when you feel heard and seen, or a snowy walk in the woods where you are surrounded by a beautiful silence — meditation can be a way to experience the present moment on a daily basis. When you are able to calm your mind into its least excited state, you come into alignment with your true nature. With practice, this feeling will permeate your daily way of existing in the world, and you will act from this place naturally. It’s in this space and stillness that we can find the answers.
I invite you to join me in this meditation exercise. Ideally, you can do this with others and designate one person to be the guide.
- REFLECT: Before you begin, find a piece of paper. Write down one question, conflict, or problem that is burning inside of you right now. Now, put the paper aside.
- VISUALIZE: Imagine yourself walking along a snowy pathway. It’s a bright day with a crystal clear blue sky. You’re alone, but you feel safe and warm in your winter layers. You feel the crisp breeze on your face. You’re breathing in the pure air and it feels refreshing in your lungs. You’re walking and there’s no wind — it’s completely still. You’re heading slightly uphill, into the trees, deeper into the woods. You feel the warmth of the sun streaming through the trees and hitting your nose. You look to the left and to the right, and everywhere, the snow sparkles.
You arrive at a rock perch overlooking the valley below. You stop and sit down. You become very still, mirroring the stillness around you. In that stillness, you take 10 extremely deep breaths. In and out. With every breath, you feel the cold air cleansing your nose, throat, chest, and torso and detoxifying your body.
- MANTRA MEDITATION: Next, you take two minutes to sink into a slow, natural breath. Once settled, repeat this mantra: aham (pronounced: aah hum). It’s a Sanskrit word that means “I am.” When your mind wanders, gently guide it back to this mantra. Aham. Aham. Aham. When you feel complete, imagine yourself standing up and beginning your walk down the hill.
- CLARITY: Now, find that piece of paper and revisit your question. Has an answer to your question made itself clear?
Because of who I am and what I do, I’ve spent many years seeking advice and wisdom (even including psychics) to figure out what I should do and where I should go in my life. I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of money on trying to get other people to help me figure this out. Isn’t it funny how much of our lives we spend seeking someone else’s wisdom about ourselves? Now, I realize that I have all the tools I need to find these answers myself.
That’s the beauty in coaching: as a coach, I never proclaim to be someone who is going to give you an answer. It’s a partnership to help you discover the answers for yourself. It isn’t so much about delving into your past or providing you with the future vision, as it is about discovering where you are right now and what that means for you, and helping you discover where you truly want to go.
As you consider your vision for 2022, start by releasing stress, calming your mind, and taking a walk into the stillness of winter. Nature always guides us onto our right path.
What is one thing you do know? What is one thing you want today? And what is one step you can take towards that? If that step is coming from a truly authentic, still place inside of you, that will guide you towards where you need to be. Do that for one day, two days, one week, two weeks, and the bigger vision will come into focus.
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today: www.thisiskismet.com.