This comes with my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who read The Listening Post, and it comes with my best wishes for a wonderful, healthy 2019. Happy New Year!
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I prefer New Year’s observations—a leisurely chance to look back at the previous 12 months to celebrate everything that has happened. Even if I’ve had a tough year, the fact that I am still here is cause for celebration.
My partner and I like to do this yearly review on New Year’s Day over a cup of tea. If you haven’t done this before—with a partner or friend, or on your own—I encourage you to try it. Our culture is heavily forward-looking: we rarely pause before moving on. But this is our loss, because acknowledging and celebrating all we’ve done and experienced can profoundly influence how we move on.
Since I’m tossing the idea of resolutions out the window, I’d like to offer the concept of rhythm as a replacement. Observing the rhythm of your life, and noticing how well that rhythm is or isn’t working for you, is a key form of self-responsibility. This sustained self-observation isn’t glamorous: it requires patience and perseverance through days, weeks, and months. But it is the cornerstone of loving self-care.
Moment-by-moment rhythm: the breath
Your breath is your most elemental form of physical, emotional, and spiritual feedback or guidance. Just as ocean waves reveal the state of the wind and the pull of the moon, your breath reveals the influence on you of your environment and your pace of life. If your breathing is fast, shallow, or jagged, or if you hold your breath, there is some way your rhythm is off.
Heart breathing is a doubly powerful antidote to stress. It simultaneously restores a calmer breathing rhythm and reconnects you to your spiritual intuition. From this place of inner knowing, you can sense what is out of rhythm in your life, and what action is needed to correct that.
Bigger-picture rhythm: health and energy
Your breath provides immediate insight into your physical and emotional state. But to find the life rhythms that work best for you, this moment-by-moment feedback of the breath needs to be held in a larger context of daily, weekly, and monthly self-observation. What do you observe about your physical and mental energy levels?
—Do you tend to get sick easily? If so, take a closer look at your sensitive need for rest.
—Are there times when you predictably get overstimulated or exhausted? On a daily basis, this brief, strategically timed restorative yoga pose can work miracles to restore your energy. If you suspect your daily routine is not serving you well, adjust it to help you manage your energy skillfully.
Your unfailing source of wisdom: spiritual intuition
When your rhythm is out of whack, your spiritual intuition can show you how to restore it. But you have to be quiet enough inside to hear or sense that intuition, because it will not shout at you. I rely on meditation to maintain this inner quiet.
But if there is an area of life in which your rhythm is chronically “off”, you may need more tools to get to the next step of spiritual connection. In this regard, Focusing and Inner Bonding are godsends so sensitive people, helping us connect to our spiritual intuition in the midst of form of fatigue, stress, or illness so we can find healthier life rhythms.
Looking back on 2018
On this day a year ago, we were sleeping at a retreat center while trying to get the skunk smell out of our house— a very stressful experience! But for the most part, 2018 was packed with poignant and exciting events: my parents moved out of our family home of 53 years; my daughter graduated from college; I traveled to India for the first time; and the concept of a new business name and website sprang into being (I plan to launch Sustainably Sensitive in late January).
Most importantly, I can field all this much more gracefully than I could in the past, thanks to many years of patient observation and experimentation with my daily weekly, and monthly rhythms.
As you celebrate 2018, what rhythms do you see in your rhythms of work and play, health and illness, activity and rest?
Inner Bonding Buddy Course starts January 24th!
Inner Bonding is a six-step process that helps you cultivate three key elements of a sustainably sensitive life: self-knowledge, self-responsibility, and spiritual connection.
In the four-week Inner Bonding Buddy Course, you will discover the power of deep listening to help you stay in your Loving Adult and connect to your spiritual intuition. Deep listening is particularly powerful for sensitive people. As you partner with a different classmate each week, you will develop mutually supportive relationships, so that by the end of class you will have several Inner Bonding Buddies.
Here’s what one participant wrote after taking the course last year:
“I loved this Buddy course and was surprised how wonderful it was to be listened to and heard while doing Inner Bonding. The deep connections I made have continued, and I am working with a buddy even after the course has finished.” — LW, Australia
Quick course facts:
What: Inner Bonding Buddy four-week online peer-support course, taught by Emily Agnew
Who: For Inner Bonders who want to go deeper in their practice
Prerequisite: Some familiarity with the 6 steps and concepts of Inner Bonding
When: Four Thursdays (January 24 and 3, February 7 and 14) from 3:30 PM to 5 PM Eastern (12:30 PM to 2 PM PST)
Where: On Zoom videoconference. Note: this is a “live” class and attendance is required.
Tuition: $199 ($239 after Jan 20)