By Hector Simoudis and Rita Devassy

Article as seen on the Deva Seed website.

When the New Year approaches, you get this feeling. A feeling of eagerness. An eagerness to change…to change your life, to attain achievements that the very thought of makes your insides twirl. But it can be discouraging, right? How many times have you given up on your New Year’s resolutions because “life got busy” or “you didn’t have enough time”? What if we told you that there is a hidden secret about New Year’s resolutions?  

Here is a hint: Each New Year’s resolution is a relationship directly between mindfulness and personal connection. But it is not just any ordinary relationship. It’s a relationship every one of us has, but we often ignore. And so, without realizing it, for the first time in many days, weeks, or even months…no…you are not crafting New Year’s resolutions — instead, you are taking the time to reflect…you are practicing some mindfulness! And you are also personally connecting with yourself…in other words, your inner self. The self that is just between you and you. The self that no one else has access to. The self that guides your path by steering each life impacting decision you make.

You are embracing the powerful marriage of mindfulness and personal connection with yourself. You are paying attention to what matters the most to you. And why is that? You are doing that because at the end of the year, you actually have time to slow down, you have space, and you can take the time to pause. It is time to challenge yourself. Embrace your reality. Engage mindfulness and personal connection with yourself.

At year end, we contemplate New Year’s resolutions because we want something to radically shift in our world. And typically, it is habit that we want to break or a new habit we want to form. A habit is potentially a set of thoughts, a narrative, a story that we tell ourselves…and we desperately want to re-write that story. We want to trust ourselves more. We want to do better — we want things to be better for those we serve. We want to feel accomplished, yet energized. We want to feel connected, yet unique. We want to give generously, yet receive. We want things to be right with the world.

Even though we spend a great amount of time thinking and reflecting at the end of the year, many of us continue to feel emptiness. Although we have created New Year’s resolutions based on our reflection of the past year, there is still something missing. We don’t understand why we feel this way. The reason? Well, many of us haven’t taken a step back to truly understand what makes up a New Year’s resolution.

Here it is: at its core, a New Year’s resolution is a deep connection with yourself. You are freely exploring without judgement; you are looking at your life in its rawest and most authentic form. And what’s the most powerful part? The person guiding your New Year’s resolution decisions is you. Why? Because you are the only person that knows yourself better than anyone else. So what is the missing piece? Understanding the reality that most of us don’t take the necessary time to be mindful and personally connect with our inner self until the end of the year — and when we do, we try to take a year’s worth of self-connection practice and cram it into what we call New Year’s resolutions!

The holiday season is a perfect time to contemplate. It is a time of celebration…a time to give…a time to share with family and friends…it is a time of connection. It is a great time to explore what uplifts us, what sustains us, and what ignites our passions. At the same time, this time of year gives us pause: a chance to reflect on the year that has passed…a chance to reflect on the year that is beginning. We feel hopeful that things can change, a fresh start. We are able to connect, ever so briefly, with ourselves; we notice what feels great and what regrets we have. It is a powerful and transformative fusion to know what is important to you — and to have the self-awareness and presence to recognize it and take action towards fulfilling it. The outside noise of day-to-day life temporarily ceases during the holidays. We allow ourselves to feel true feeling. To feel the pain and pleasure from the emotions that surface as we reflect on the past year — and we begin fantasizing about the outcomes in the new year to come.

To that end, what important cues are you missing that are right in front of you?  Imagine this. The momentary loss of eye contact with another, the subtle message in someone’s tone of voice or the invisible warmth one feels in your presence. How aware are you of these things? The richness of each moment is lost when you are not present to it. Events and people are dismissed and meaningless when we forget the wonder of human existence — or when we feel no connection to it. Things feel constricted or rigid when we don’t exercise openness and curiosity. Being present, aware, curious, non-judgmental and compassionate may seem like non-essential requirements to living and leading a full life — but have you noticed how empty it feels when you don’t experience those qualities? Here is where the practice of mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is akin to building a muscle or training for a new skill — and it is a way to train one’s mind to pay attention to the connections that are most important.

Let’s look deeper at the connections that are most important to you. To do this, we are going to do an exercise. Although it may be uncomfortable, you need to be honest with yourself for this exercise to work. We are going to take 90 seconds to close our eyes. During this time, ask yourself the following:

1. Am I happy with the connections that are most important to me?

2. Which connections need my attentiveness? Why?

3. Have I lost the depth of connections I once had with certain individuals? If so, why?

Are you ready? Begin.

(90 seconds later)

How do you feel? Did you notice any significant thoughts, emotions or sensations as you did this exercise? Which connections made you feel the most pain and the most pleasure? Why are some of your connections filled with feelings of pleasure — and others filled with feelings of pain? Whom and/or what are you blaming for your connections being in their current state?

At the end of year, many of us have one or several New Year’s resolutions around the personal connections in our life; they are created by asking ourselves questions similar to the ones in the above exercise. You see, there is a problem here. A key ingredient to why our connections to others aren’t as strong as they could be is this: it all comes down to the personal connection with your inner self! Many of us prefer not to give ourselves that attention. We don’t challenge how connected we are to our inner self, or how to strengthen this relationship. Many us of do believe we focus on our inner self, but the truth is, is that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

Let’s take a tree, for example. A tree consists of many branches. Although each branch has its own beauty and individuality, they are all connected through the solid and stable trunk to the roots of the tree. If we viewed our personal connections as a tree, each branch represents an individual, personal connection we have with another (i.e. our significant other, father, mother, brother, sister, friend, colleague, boss, etc.). The roots of our tree are like the personal connection we have with our inner self. If we continuously focus on the roots of our tree, the healthier it is. The healthier it is, the larger it grows. The more it grows, the more branches it can support.  

But as nature does in its course, some branches will dry up, break off or fall off from the trunk…in nature, roots are challenged by the elements and can topple the tree trunk on its side…even uprooting a tree. What is evident from this is that the overall strength of the tree trunk, healthy branches and growing roots, all matter, for the tree to survive.

Many us believe that we focus on the root of our tree throughout the year, but in actuality, we are focusing mainly on the branches. So when we develop strained connections or we cut off connections with others, we ask why. We don’t understand. We get frustrated. And oftentimes, we are dissatisfied with ourselves — we lack self-confidence, self-trust and self-love. So the question is how does this apply to your personal connections and your inner self?

Whether at work or play, contemplate the power of being present to your personal connections. Explore the marriage of mindfulness and personal connection of your inner self. In 2018, VP Legacies and Deva Seed will be partnering to offer you that very opportunity! Connect and explore with us by giving us a shout over email: mindfulpersonalconnection@gmail.com

Hector Simoudis is the CEO of VP Legacies, a Personal Connection firm. VP Legacies WHY is “creating a world where people are not afraid to personally connect”; they are dedicated to helping organizations create raving fans about their WHY through emotional storytelling. Hector has always had a passion for storytelling and entrepreneurship. Growing up in a multicultural community in the Middle East, his entrepreneurship endeavors began at age 13 and his love for creating a personal connection through storytelling was fully realized as he traveled throughout the world.

Rita Devassy is the CEO and founder of Deva Seed a mindfulness-based leadership training company. Rita is best known in her field for helping C-suite executives incorporate mindfulness into how they live and lead. Mindfulness—both the formal practice of meditation and the moment-to-moment life application–teaches them to be resilient. It reframes their thoughts toward positivity and productivity and helps them build a inner sense of empathy, curiosity, and compassion.