Preparing the Nest
CHECK-IN: Take a moment to reflect on the past year, trying to accept and not judge the highs or the lows but just noticing what comes up. We will go around to hear from each person: What I valued most about this past year. (Try to be concise. It is not storytelling time.)
Sit with feet on the floor, hands on your lap.
Take a deep breath and feel your body settling into the space.
Close your eyes.
Breathe naturally, focusing on the exhale, give a slight pause before you inhale. Do this a couple of times, then switch to focusing on the inhale, pausing before you exhale.
Go back to just breathing normally. Focus on the sound or sensation of your breathe. Remember, your mind is designed to think. If thoughts arise, label them (planning, worrying, retelling, etc.) and return to the breath.
If you struggle, switch your focus to sounds - any and all sounds around you.
At the end of practice, give yourself a hug.
Rub hands together as you open your eyes.
Caroline Jones used a nest in one of her dharma talks. It’s an ideal start for the new year. Consider how much work it takes for a bird to build a nest, a sanctuary. There is a lot of intentional effort that goes into gathering, weaving, and purging all sorts of materials to create this beautiful space.
Imagine this nest is a metaphor for your life. What is something fragile or not quite developed that you would like for yourself? This is the egg. If there is ONE WORD that you could place as your "egg" inside the nest, what would it be? In your journal, draw your nest and put the word inside. Around the edges, list words to describe the "materials" you will need to create a nest that sustains this egg, things you need to add or focus on in your life to make this egg hatch. Off to the side, imagine a discarded pile of materials. List things you need to remove or purge from your life to help keep your "nest" strong and well-designed.
SHARING: When speaking, try to respect the time and be intentional with your words. It's easy to fall into storytelling to help explain your ideas. Keep them short. When listening, stay fully focused on what the person is saying. Don’t ask questions or jump in to share perspective or a connective story. Try not to have your own thoughts or judgements overtake the listening. Place your attention on the speaker. It's hard because we’re used to connecting through dialogue.
CLOSING: Doing mindful practices for short amounts throughout the day is a bit like people who park far away in a parking lot so they can get the extra steps. Every little bit helps to switch the neural pathways of how you think. I find Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements a fast and easy way to stay mindful throughout the day.
Don't Take It Personally
Choose Your Words Carefully (are they kind, are they necessary, are they helpful?)
Do Your Best
These are amazingly effective at guiding thoughts and responses in daily life. Write them down on a post-it and place them strategically. You will start to catch yourself and realize where you are creating your own struggles or creating struggle for others unnecessarily.