"Life is a blackboard upon which we consciously or unconsciously write those messages which govern us. We hold the chalk and the eraser in our hand but are ignorant of this fact. What we now experience we need not continue to experience but the hand which holds the eraser must do it's neutralizing work." ~ Ernest Holmes
I love the sentiment of the quote above because it illustrates the fact that the content of our mind determines our experience in life. Using the metaphor of the blackboard, chalk, and eraser, Holmes also points out that it is we, and we alone, who have absolute control over the content of our mind and, therefore, how our thoughts and beliefs out-picture themselves in our daily life. Below are seven practices that I have established for myself as I enter the New Year. I invite you to consider trying them for yourself. Take what works and work it, and discard what doesn't. As Holmes infers, if we don't want to drag the past year into the new year we don't have to. However, we have work to do because no one can alter the content of our minds--it is an inside job. We and we alone hold both the eraser and the chalk in our hand. How we use them will determine what our experience of the upcoming year shall be.
- Open your mind to the new possibilities that lie in the unknown. Be willing to try new things. Make a conscious effort to get out of your comfort zone; this can include pursuing new career/job opportunities or learning/skill activities that you may have never considered before. It can also include unexplored relationships or—for that matter—even new types of food and entertainment. With the right perspective, you can consider stepping outside of your box of your known world as a great opportunity and welcome it with open arms.
- Forgive. As long as you live in a human skin, forgiveness is the one practice that you'll need to master because nothing will keep you stuck in the past more effectively than resentment and non-forgiveness. Think of it this way: What (or who) you don't forgive, you drag into the new year with you. To forgive is to erase the negative energy that keeps you from entering the new year with a clean "blackboard"; this includes forgiving yourself as well.
- Set realistic goals & write them down. Goal setting is a vital component of creating anything new. However, it's important not to set yourself up for failure by declaring goals that are so lofty—so far out of your box—that you know, in your heart, can never be reached. The practice is to come to the edge of your comfort zone and lean over just enough to make yourself uncomfortable, taking small, achievable steps that allow you to see still the possibility of arriving at the finish line. Writing out your goals helps to kinesthetically "inscribe them on the blackboard" of your conscious and unconscious mind.
- Observe & challenge old habit patterns that keep you stuck in the yuck. All habits are merely mind-energy set in motion through a specific type of behavior. In and of itself, habit energy is not necessarily bad. The key is to be conscious enough of your habits, that when they don't serve your wholeness, to challenge them. Once identified, the practice is to see your old habit(s) as "neutral energy" seeking expression through the path of least resistance. With awareness, you can make an effort to intentionally redirect habit energy in a new direction—one that serves you well in the new year; this is using the "eraser and chalk" in a compelling way.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the experience of bringing your thinking mind into alignment with your body, to be aware of what is happening around you and in you in the present moment. Mindfulness is essential as you enter a new year because the present moment is always where life is unfolding. Practicing mindfulness places the eraser and chalk in your hand; it's where your authentic power awaits.
- Seek a cheerleader who will support you in reaching your goals. Doing all the aforementioned things can be a daunting task to take on alone. Enlist the support of a trusted friend or mentor who is able to support you in seeing and moving toward the vision you hold for the new you in the new year. However, also be sure that person is someone who can and will hold you accountable for doing what you say you are going to do.
- Set aside time daily to spend in the presence of your Higher Power. When you make room daily to partner with your Higher Power (or whatever name by which you refer to It) doing all the previously mentioned practices seem to flow with grace and ease. Why? Because you are one with the source of all that is good and you can trust that It knows what you need to know when you need to know it. The practice is to believe It and follow Its lead and have faith that the upcoming year will be the best year of your life.
In Summary: The blackboard of 2018 has yet to be inscribed upon, and it awaits your mental, emotional, and spiritual imprint. May your exit from 2017 be gentle and complete and may your entry into the new year be smooth and intentional. May you always remember that you, and you alone, hold the eraser and chalk in your hand. Now the adventure begins! Happy new you, my friends.
Peace, Dennis Merritt Jones