I am setting the nock of an arrow into the string of my bow and taking aim. As I face the end of January and a new year spread out before me, I find it valuable to take stock of the year that has just passed, and to think about my goals and intentions for the year to come.
The year to come is my arrow.
My bow and draw of the string are my intentions, skills and abilities.
The target is what I am aiming for... the sum of all my goals and dreams and wishes.
I have learned from practice that there are at least two methods in training to shoot an arrow with accuracy in archery that apply to the rest of my life. I want to share them with you as we stand poised in transition before the new year.
One method is based on grounding, stabilizing and anchoring the body. This kind of training is about deep, clear, quiet mindfulness and stillness. There is a kind of slowing down the world for a moment to make the shot accurate and true. It is about knowing your breath and your needs intimately and being clear enough to shoot straight from a grounded place. This method is all about precision.
Another method is often called instinctive shooting, or “shooting from the heart”. It is a fluid motion. Like throwing a baseball, there is not a slow steady precision in the aim, rather it is all about training muscle memory to hit a target in motion. Sometimes this is done on horseback or on an obstacle course where your body is in motion. It's called “shooting from the heart” because the accuracy comes from anchoring wherever your heart is in space. Whether you are flying over the ground on a galloping horse, or tumbling around bushes and under hedgerows, the true shot is made by trusting your developed sense of direction and making mostly unconscious but skilled decisions on the go.
So, what does this have to do with planning for a new year?
Well, there are some moments in life where a slow gaze and a steady hand make the goal easy and potentially effortless. If we are well trained and practice this kind of stillness and deep seeing that comes from a daily meditation practice or a contemplative movement practice, the feeling in releasing the arrow feels natural.
But there are times when we are required to think and act instinctively, responding on our feet. This kind of moment is not about calm contemplation, it is about trained muscle memory and repetition. It is about what habits you have formed over time to support accuracy in motion.
Both skills are important to develop if we want to live a flexible and resilient life. As we grow ourselves into healthy, vibrant humans. Living more skillfully into the future we are co-creating, we might be called upon to act in one way, or another, to be of service to ourselves, our families, and our communities.
How do you feel today in either or both of these skills?
Are you wobbly when asked to hold steady in an anchored aim?
Are you easily distracted by what is flying by when shooting from the heart?
What kinds of practices bring you into a greater sense of skill as you take aim towards your goals in the new year?
Has life offered changes that challenge your abilities from the past, and you find this year that you are called upon to learn new adjustments to old skills in order to keep your momentum?
What do you need to integrate and transform this year that will keep you balanced in the saddle, or steady on the ground?
I look forward to working with you on developing these skills of resilience and clarity as you move closer towards your goals of joyful living into the new year.