Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

The Practice of Using December for Retreat, Reflection & Letting Go

By Leo Babauta

December can be a cold and dark month for many people, a time of lowered energy while still being very busy.

For that reason, I find that’s an amazing time for:

Retreat: Take a little time out of my busy year for a little quiet solitude and turning inward, creating space for silence, contemplation and mindfulness.Reflection: This quiet time is a time to reflect on how the year has gone, and how I’d like to move into the new year. We don’t often give ourselves enough time for reflection, as we’re always busy in activity.Letting go: What have we become burdened with over the past year? Over the past decade? This time of turning inward is also a great time to let go of burdens, resentments, etc.

It’s a season for retreat and reflection, for me. Let’s talk about how that can look.

Creating Space for Retreat

Imagine that you were to sign up for a retreat this month … you put aside your daily life, all your busywork, all your projects and errands and emails and messages … and you travel to another place.

In this place, you remove yourself from the busy world and find space for quiet. For reflection. For contemplation, setting intentions, reviewing how things have gone. For gratitude and appreciation for life.

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Sacred Bow Challenge: Review Your Year & Set Intentions for 2020

By Leo Babauta

For the month of December, invite you to join my Sacred Bow Challenge (“bow” rhymes with “cow” as in “take a bow”) — it’s a way to become more conscious about how close out the year and enter into the new year.

The challenge is about:

Reflecting back on 2019 to see what you’ve learned, acknowledge what you accomplished and have gone through. Getting clear on patterns and struggles, seeing victories clearly.Setting intentions for 2020. This isn’t a “New Year’s resolutions” kind of thing, but being conscious & intentional about how we enter the year. What habits would you like to create?Setting structure so that we can hold to those intentions as best we can.

As we move through a busy holiday season and the year comes to an end, I’ve found that it’s useful to take a little time to be intentional.

Reflect on 2019

How can we learn from what we did this year, so that we can use it to grow? This is about looking back at how the year went, how we did with our intentions and goals, what happened for us — without judgment. Just getting clear, so that we can learn.

For example:

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Working with the Ebbs & Flows of Your Resistance

By Leo Babauta

There is a part of us that resists things that are hard, uncomfortable, overwhelming, or a big change. Even if we really want to do it.

What is this resistance, and how do we work with it?

The resistance is simply our mind not wanting to do something that feels uncomfortable: anything uncertain, difficult, overwhelming, different than our normal way of doing things, awkward, painful, sad, lonely, stressful. It makes sense that we would avoid these kinds of discomfort.

Resistance shows up in so many places in our lives:

Procrastinating on our meaningful workGetting addicted to distractions, social media, checking messages, shopping (as a way to avoid what we don’t want to face)Resisting changing our diet to something healthierSitting too much, which is resisting moving more and getting away from the comfort of devicesResisting relaxing and not doing anything productiveResisting doing things productive when you just want to relax into distractionResisting meeting new people, going to social events, participating in group activitiesNot wanting to open up to others, or open up to the person you’re in an intimate relationship withNot wanting to say what you want, to yourself or othersNot committing fully to something, out of fear of not being able to do it

These are just a few common ways that resistance shows up for us. But it’s everywhere in our lives.

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How to Be Kind to Yourself & Still Get Stuff Done

By Leo Babauta

I’ve found that there are two profound changes that almost any of of us can make:

Become kinder to ourselvesBuild trust in ourselves

Unfortunately, because we don’t really trust ourselves, we’re very rarely kind to ourselves.

When I ask people to start being kind to themselves, they usually come back at some point with this dilemma:

“But if I’m too kind to myself, I won’t get anything done!”

This is the fear, when people start being kind to themselves — that they’ll be too soft, they won’t get stuff done, they’ll let themselves off the hook too easily, they’ll just lie around doing nothing.

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The Way of Less

By Leo Babauta

Our lives naturally get filled with clutter: possessions that we ordered online pour in week by week, we take on more and more, we are constantly reading and watching and responding, messages pour in daily as well.

The modern world is one of more, more and still more.

What would it be like to declutter our lives and live with less?

The Way of Less is one of:

Less clutter, fewer possessions, just the essentialsNo need to reach for the comfort of buying things or holding onto things, because you have learned to take care of your stress without thingsLess doing and busy-ness, because you’ve said no to more things, and have focused only on the things that make the most differenceLess distractedness, because you’re checking on things less, more focused and less responsiveLess on your to-read list, less on your to-watch list, less that you have planned because you’ve let go of needing to read and watch and do everything that looks interesting

By reducing down to less, you learn to become content with little. You have space in your life. You can breathe. You can give focus to what matters most to you. You can find joy in the simple things.

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