I'm writing this journal piece out in my courtyard, very early on a beautiful warm clear morning, and it almost seems as if it's just me and the birds who are awake, and the rest of the city is in a restful (or hungover, perhaps!) slumber. It's new years day, 1st January 2021, after a very quiet and gentle close to the year. No big celebration. No big new year intentions. I'm a non-drinker these days, so most celebrations are quieter, for me. I chose to be very low-key and close the door on this year, and just gently open it to the next. Today. I've been finding so much more so, through not only this year, but other times of uncertainty and change over the past years in my life (or perhaps just as I'm getting older!) - how much I savour a quiet and gentle life. I notice that I make far more conscious and intentional choices, just as a natural way of being now, every day. Taking things as they come, allowing life to unfold and to evolve as it will, with an acceptance of just what is, and finding ease and calm within it all. I was reflecting on some of the gentle practices that support me with this, and I thought I'd share some of these thoughts here, as a gentle way to begin your new year.
A gentle awareness of this past year, has often brought up a theme of expectation, and a gentle reminder to know ways to release, and to let go. As I write these reflections, I notice they are centered around expectation, and certain pressures with ourselves, with others, and within this life.
These times are uncertain, with so many unknowns. I felt the heaviness of this yesterday, knowing friends were rushing and having to cancel plans to visit family, and knowing others frantically trying to fly home with the recent border closures again. And I know many of us in Victoria have felt deflated and those fears of last year, we all know so well, rising up again. It's just one reason I chose to lay low this new years eve, to not get caught up in too much conversation around it all, as well just knowing that as someone who does feel things deeply, and for others so much, my heart and thoughts are with everyone right now, here, and around the world. I'm always thinking of friends I know over in the UK right now, and just how difficult things are over there. My gentle choice last night, was to feel things I needed to, and to then choose ways for myself, to listen, to find my own inner calm, and stillness within.
Letting go of expectations and how things should be, need to be, or have to be - this has been a really big theme, but also a gentle practice, through times of uncertainty and change. I know that honestly, moving through a time of deep loss and grief in my life, and to be here where I am now, has meant that I don't hold expectations of how life 'should' be, or 'must' be. I think when we have experienced our lives turned completely upside down and inside out, we do find a sense of acceptance and a deeper sense of surrender to just what is, and a knowing that things will happen that are completely out of our control. And I know that to continually resist and fight the external chaos, or feel angry and fearful, or resentful towards this, just doesn't support me, or fill me with any ease or calm.
It's not passive to accept things in life. To me, it's one the hardest and yet most profound ways of being, and such a healing journey, to be able to do this - to come to an acceptance of some of the most adverse circumstances in life, to not be able to change them, but to just simply be with what is. And to keep on carrying on, always staying open. To me, this is everything.
It's become necessary as a gentle practice, as a gift of self compassion and grace, to really find and know ways to deeply surrender to life as it unfolds, full of all the highs and lows, extremes and in betweens. An acceptance that I have no control over things external to me, and this gentle knowing is a way of returning to what feels most ease-filled and calm to me. Perhaps some of these thoughts and reflections feel true for you, right now. And perhaps you might think of ways you can choose acceptance, ways you can choose to feel within yourself through uncertainty, right now. We can choose gentle and loving practices to turn inwards, to feel attuned and connected to who we are, and to know that our inner calm resides within. We can make conscious and intentional choices to nurture our inner world, and then we respond to all the external things going on around us, with so much more ease.
Gentleness and grace within relationships is such an enriching and meaningful way of being. Having a deep understanding that everyone is living their own experiences through these times, right now. This year has indeed shown me who my steadfast and constant friends, family and companions are. I know very well that hard times we move through in life, some people will stay and grow closer, and others will drift away or just follow their own path. And this year especially, all living this same uncertainty in our own ways, with our own life situations - an understanding and compassion for all our different priorities and needs, always reminds me to love people ever so gently.
To let go of any ways we should or shouldn't be, to not hold onto things, to not judge others, to not make assumptions, and to just acknowledge this gentle practice I have, of not dwelling, not over-thinking, and just having understanding and compassion for where we are all, personally at. A gentle awareness that we all have things going on and this letting go of expectations, can be a really powerful thing to do, and just softens and changes so much.
I've spoken to many people this year who have told me that connections and friendships have changed, and I think it's been true for many of us. But for me, it's felt true through hard times before, so I don't think it's felt unexpected during this past year at all. I do believe that if we have one or two people in our lives that we can truly depend on, to be there, then we are blessed. I think we do have friends in life who we meet for a reason. Some will present with us always. Others through similar circumstances or an experience, and just like the seasons of life, these friendships will be constant and then they might fade, or we might find each other again, when the timing feels right. And some friendships are cultivated with such a beautiful and natural honesty that means we can openly talk about things if something feels unsettling, or we miss them, or we wonder what's going on, and how they are. And I've really cherished these relationships in my life too, and through this year. I think of two friendships in this way, as I write this just now. Just understanding each other and our lives, without expectations - it's a beautiful and gentle way to bring presence back to the friendship, to a deeper connection, and to let things naturally unfold from there. Perhaps there are friendships you think of through these times, and are there more gentle ways to approach and be within these relationships, to nurture these, to let go of the need to control anything or anyone, and to just allow and accept things as they come, and to enquire with honesty, if you feel called to.
Letting go of the pressures and expectations on ourselves. Having a gentle awareness of things we know truly nurture and support us, and things that don't - and being quite firm about this. Gentleness doesn't always mean we aren't honest with ourselves, or even challenge ourselves in ways that might feel confronting. Gentleness to me, is so much about feeling attuned and connected within. An inner calm that resides within. Closing my eyes, taking breaths, feeling into my heart, and coming to things from a place of my own truth. Choices, intentions, and gentleness is being mindful of feeling aligned and in flow, that everything comes from this truth within, this space of knowing, for me.
I've learnt to be far more honest with myself when I'm doing something that isn't gentle or in flow, for me. Small things like scrolling on my phone - I gently place a stop sign in front of myself so I don't continue doing those kinds of things. Not getting caught up in thoughts that come that are confusing, or fearful, or bring stress and anxiety - instead, to bring gentle awareness to these thoughts, to not berate them or judge them. This way, I am attuned to how they make me feel, what purpose they serve, and to gently but firmly close the door on them, let them flow out into another space and place, and to not consume me. And I choose other thoughts, other ways, other distractions, to fill me.
When we dwell on thoughts, we can so easily get caught up in believing everything that we think is true. Instead, I lean into this gentle awareness of what comes and flows, and why, and I start becoming curious about this, my reactions and responses to these thoughts and feelings. I tune in, I listen to myself, and if there's an honest calling within that I can't ignore, that intuitive feeling I have that this isn't supporting me, it's up to me to choose another way, to shift things for myself.
Perhaps this is something you could bring your gentle awareness to, as well. Just being curious about your thoughts, noticing them, and being gentle and honest with yourself about what's supporting you, and what's not. This might be true for all kinds of things in your heart and life. Perhaps new choices to be made, in more conscious and intentional ways. Life improves and opens so much, when we are curious with ourselves and with life, and we allow, accept and honour our choices as true and aligned for us.
I think of gentleness in the ways I begin my day - morning practices and a healthy routine. I wrote a blog piece the other day around 'healthy habits for your everyday' and all of these feel gentle to me. I often wake with the sun, very early some days. I rise slowly, I don't enjoy rushing, so I create time for things, I create the space I need. If I'm going somewhere, I don't enjoy rushing or being late, fitting too many things in, or the busyness of doing so much in life, these days. Gentleness to me, is simplifying things, planning less, and doing less. It also means I have far more presence with those things I do give my whole attention, energy and heart to.
Gentleness is creating my own rythmn, my own way, my own pace. I wonder, if you feel attuned to your own pace and how that feels for you, and what creates the most abundant feeling within, for your wellbeing. As gentle ways of being and living, are all for the benefit of our whole wellbeing. And so, I embrace this with all of my day, as much as possibly can. And if feel out of rythmn, or I feel pressured or again, always returning to this theme of expectation - then I ever so gently remind myself of my inner calm that resides within. How I may return there, to this stillness within. I stop what I'm doing, I adjust things, I create more space.
One of the most powerful and gentle practices I know is to always, simply stop, and take breaths in and out, center myself - wherever I am, however I am - and bring myself back to this present moment, in a far more ease-filled and calm way.
As I finish these reflections, I can hear the rest of the homes around where I live, waking up. I'm going inside now to brew a pot of coffee, and sit down and read something beautiful to take in, and listen to music that will uplift my day. This new day, of this new year.
I wonder if any of these gentle awareness practices or ways of being, might shift and open things for you, to feel more ease and calm within, and through each and every day. Gentle ways of being for your wellbeing. Treading gently, with kindness and compassion, on this earth, with all and with everything. See what shifts and changes and opens, for you.
Wishing you a restful, ease-filled, and calm beginning to your new year, and ongoing.
With love x
PS. If you enjoy reading these blogs, then do sign up to receive my regular 'Letters of Support' (newsletter) and you will also receive a beautiful free eBook to download too: A--Z Self care reminders - http://eepurl.com/gpmXun
Katie Jane is a Holistic Therapist, Life Coach, Health Coach, Nutritionist, Naturopath, Meditation teacher, writer and author. Katie has been working in the wellness industry for over 15 years, in private practice and online, and brings all of these qualifications and skills, along with her own lived experiences through challenges, changes and transitions. Her approach to life and wellbeing is truly holistic and unique for each individual. She supports and coaches clients to make powerful changes, to feel calm through uncertainty and change, to embrace self care as a way of being, and to thrive through life transitions.