Making way for the new

“And now we welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been.”

I no longer make New Year resolutions, but I deliberately set aside time to reflect on the year gone by and set intentions for the coming year. I am incredibly grateful to have welcomed in this year in the good company of others, but in silence and stillness on a week-long meditation and yoga retreat.  This was a chance to let go and just be, instead of incessantly making plans or to do lists. I believe it essential to create space every now and again (wherever we can find it) to declutter our minds and make room for the new.  

I find great hope in the above quote from Rainer Maria Rilke. 2020 has arrived and we have never experienced a moment of it before. It presents us with a wide-open space and a broad canvas on which we can place our intentions, hopes and dreams. While we may have little control over the events and challenges that life will bring our way this coming year, we can choose to develop a gentler attitude and response to these challenges rather than reacting blindly to them, out of pure habit.  

We can tie ourselves up in knots sometimes, both physically in our bodies, and mentally in our minds. I have had the image of a gordian knot coming and going in my mind for a while and it somehow reminds me of myself, at times tangled up in complex difficulties, sometimes unable to find solutions.  Life’s challenges can seem ongoing or can sometimes take us by surprise. It is vital therefore to take time to practice our self-care, and loosen those knots, which, when not attended to, can store themselves in the body and cloud the mind.

Living mindlessly or on autopilot limits our options. When our minds are crowded from overthinking or tying ourselves in mental knots, we cannot even see, far less engage with the various possibilities presenting to us, or the open doors waiting for us to walk through. Cultivating mindfulness helps us to pay attention to our lives and to find meaning in the everyday. When we are present for more of our lives and living deliberately, we have more choice over our responses and decision-making.  

As my own personal practice of compassion-based mindfulness deepens, I notice more and more old habits dropping away, while newer, more wholesome habits strengthen. When the mind and body are spacious, intentions have some ground to take root and begin to grow into the seedlings of new habits. More and more doors open effortlessly. It is ironic that things seem to happen with more ease, when we don’t push or strive too hard. We become more insightful and decisions more easily align with our values and seem to emerge from a wiser, deeper place within us. We begin to trust ourselves and our intuition more fully. Rumi recommends to “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray”.

We can set an intention right now to practise mindfulness and self-care this year.  A mindful approach to 2020 involves paying attention, as best we can, to each moment, each hour, each day, as it comes. It takes a lot of practice but remember we can begin again with every breath. Remember also how important it is to be kind to ourselves when we get it wrong or feel that we are falling short in any way.  

Why not add self-compassion as another intention going forward?

An eight-week Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) is currently being planned for Clonakilty. If anyone is interested in this truly transformative course please get in touch as soon as possible for details. Drop in mindfulness classes and monthly themed workshops run regularly in Skibbereen. For more information on future workshops and courses call Susan on 087 2700572 or email:

Susan O Regan

Susan O'Regan teaches mindfulness and self-compassion courses and workshops in West Cork.

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