• Contemplating the Journey

    With the dawn of a new year almost upon us, I am reminded of long driving trips, passing through several states on an exciting journey to somewhere. 

    Entering a new state [year] can be filled with anticipation, wonder, curiosity and a desire to soak in the sights. It is often connected with positive feelings and emotions. You may notice things that seem different than the places you’ve traveled before, as well as things that look the same or have a certain familiarity. After some time, you may have more of a settled feeling in a new state [year] – you know where you are, and you’re immersed in the experience.

    End-of-Year Reflection

    As you arrive at the eve of 2023, you might be contemplating your past, present and future “states:” Where have I been? Where am I at right now? Where do I hope the upcoming year’s journey will take me? 

    For example, you may be anticipating the approaching year with both positive and negative emotions. There may be places or things that you hope to see and experience. You may also feel uncertain or concerned about what’s to come. On the other hand, you may find yourself revisiting a time in the past year – replaying a conversation, thinking about something you could have said or done differently. Such contemplation can be a way to transition to the new year with a heightened sense of awareness, acceptance and gratitude for things past and present and a sense of direction of things to come. 

    Mind’s Drift Away from Present 

    Of course, thinking about what’s to come and what has already transpired is not a phenomenon exclusive to the turn of the year. Instead, they are natural, normal human tendencies, happening countless times every day. Even when you try to remain in the present, it is very easy for your mind to drift into replaying, reminiscing and ruminating on things from before or planning and worrying about the future.

    Let’s talk a little about not letting rumination, planning and worrying rule the day and consume your precious present moments. 

    Practicing Mindfulness

    Being intentionally mindful can aid you in staying in the present experience. At the very moment you become aware that your thoughts and attention have drifted into the past or future – you are practicing mindfulness. It is that awareness that allows you to return to the present moment.

    Noticing your breath, the sounds around you, the sights you see – all of these are helpful ways to notice, and then come back to and immerse yourself in the present moment. It can be helpful to remind yourself that drifting attention and thoughts are a part of our humanness, not a sign that you are “failing” at mindfulness.

    Mindfulness practices can help remind you that the present moment is all that you really have. It is the only state of mind where you have some degree of choice as to how to proceed. 

    So, what choices are here for you now – in this moment – as you continue your journey?

    Contact the Mindful Counseling Center at 609-377-5859 for assistance with mindfully staying on course in your journey in this upcoming year of being the person you want to be, no matter the state you are in!

    This is an edited reprint of an article by Patrick Connelly, edited by Kristin Littel, originally posted early in 2022. 

    Also see Why is Mindfulness Important?