Resetting Your life: This Summer For Your Soul
It is generally the case that we tend to make big changes and evaluate our lives in January. A new year, a new start so to speak. But there’s no rule that says we have to do things that way, and in many ways a summer soul reset makes much more sense. Coming off the winter holidays most of us are filled with regret, a little too much sugar, and not nearly enough sunlight. It’s a rather grumpy and judgmental way to try to begin again and predictably it doesn’t last long. Most New Year resolutions last a few weeks, maybe into February if we’re really doing well.
In keeping with living according to the seasons, I prefer a summer “reset” so to speak. I’m not talking about resolutions here because I’m not sure they’re really very healthy.
Resolutions tend to come out of a place of self judgement. I ate way too many cookies over the 12 days of Christmas, ergo I will cut all sugar from my diet and run a mile a day. It feels like punishment. And so predictably I quit the minute my guilt wanes (even if that leaves me feeling even more guilty.) It’s a vicious cycle, and it doesn’t really help anyone. Here’s the thing. I firmly believe, and my tradition tells me, that every one of us is right now worthy, loved, and beautiful. With the 10 pounds of cookie weight, and the inability to run a mile. (If this resonates with you may I suggest a way to vanquish resolutions forever?)
Are Things Well?
I’d rather we ask ourselves a different sort of question. Instead of asking how we need to fix ourselves, or punish ourselves, or turn ourselves into something other than we are; we should be asking “are things well?” We should be checking in with our soul, with the spirit that is the core of who we are and asking her: are you OK, what do you need? It’s a totally different question and the answer is likely to be different as well. I can pretty much assure you that your soul won’t say: I hate my cellulite and want you to get rid of it.
This isn’t about self improvement, but self care. And by that I do not mean getting your nails done necessarily. Set aside some time this week, put it on your calendar. Make it at least 30 minutes, but if you can set aside a whole hour that would be ideal. The details of how you do this will vary, but here are some suggestions. First, get something to write with. Your iPad, a notebook and pencil are both fine. Whatever works for you and will let you really relax and concentrate on yourself. Now, find a quiet place. That might be a coffee shop with your headphones on, or your backyard, or even the pool where your kids are doing swimming lessons. But be sure you can have uninterrupted time where you aren’t chasing kids, or applying sunscreen, or cooking dinner, or answering the phone. Turn everything off and settle in for you time.
Where are you Itchy?
Spend some time getting centered and quiet. Again, this might look different. If you need to walk, or listen to music, or sit totally still in complete silence that’s all OK. But do your best to turn off your brain. No planning out next week’s work schedule, or your grocery list. Get quiet, but be gentle with yourself. Settle in, let the things that pop into your mind go gently and without judgement. You probably aren’t used to getting still inside so your brain will keep trying to pop up and distract you. Love your brain, but tell her “no, we’re being quiet” and let whatever it is she’s slapped on the agenda go.
When you feel ready ask yourself a question. You can make your own or use one of these suggested ones:
- Where do I feel cramped and tight and need room to breathe?
- What is making my soul itch?
- Are things well with me?
Please note that none of these question ask anything about what you should improve, or change necessarily. This isn’t about making a better you, this is about caring for yourself. Now spend at least ten minutes, but as long as you need answering the question. I suggest doing a stream of consciousness journaling here. Basically once you’ve ask the question you start writing and you don’t stop until the timer goes off. That may mean that there’s a lot of “I have no idea how to answer this question, I don’t know what to write” that happens. That’s OK. So long as you keep going you’ll be surprised what will surface. Just keep writing, let the answers surface and be gentle. There’s no rush, you can always come back to this exercise if it feels incomplete.
Baby Steps Are Key
Get up, stretch. Shake out your arms and fingers which might be pretty tight if you don’t do a lot of writing. Then read back through what you’ve written slowly and lovingly, read it without judgement. Read it as if the person you love most in the world were writing to you for help and they have trusted you with their deepest desires and needs. Because that’s all true. See what you find, what needs, or dreams do you find in all those scribbles? Highlight them, circle them, or jot them down in the margins so they’re easy to find.
Now comes the part where we need to be very careful, because there are going to be places you feel the need for things to be different. But making big promises that will end up more of a burden than a blessing isn’t the answer, we tried that in January and it didn’t work! Take a look at the things your soul had to say, are you longing for more alone time, more creative time, less stress, less rushing, more couple time? Is your current spiritual routine feeling tight and stifling and you’re feeling dried up and hungry? The things you need may be totally different than what I’ve suggested, or pretty similar.
Soul Reset: The Desire
First, look at the things you’ve highlighted or jotted down, what do you keep coming back to, what one thing would it make you so happy to have (or not have) in your life? Start there, but start small. If what you want is more time to yourself then set aside ten minutes, just ten every morning before everyone else is awake, or in the evening after work. Whatever works for you, but put it on your calendar. Drink your coffee on the deck all alone perhaps, or take a walk after work with just your music and your thoughts. Make it small, but make it consistent. One little tiny step toward something that will be joyful. The key is joy, there is no “should” here.
Soul Reset: A Road to Wholeness
It is summer, the flowers are opening, the strawberries are ripening, little baby birds are stretching their wings and taking flight for the first time. And you can give your soul permission to open, ripen, and fly as well. Stretch your body and find ways to let your soul stretch with you. Grow bigger, instead of smaller. Take up more space in the world, because you and your beauty and joy are so needed. Instead of focusing on “should” imposed on us from outside, focus on your own wholeness. Cultivate joy, bring a little light into the world and into your own heart. (That link is a love letter for you, from God/Holiness/Mystery.)
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Then follow up, check in with yourself on a regular basis. You might schedule a date with yourself to check in and check up every week or every month. Maybe ask the same questions again and see if the answers have changed. Feel out the things you’ve been doing to answer those questions. Maybe it’s time to expand, or add to them. Maybe they’ve served their purpose and it’s time to move onto something else. Our lives are dynamic and moving, what you needed in one season may be the wrong thing in the next. So keep checking in, keep checking up, and keep gifting yourself with what you need to be whole, be joyful, be most authentically you.