So now you’re at step 8. You’ve done your research, dedicated yourself to your path of healing. I.e., you know what to do and you’ve made a vow to actually do it. You’ve laid the groundwork, and now is the time for one final plotting step before action.
My advice is not to do a giant jump. Just take one small thing. My social worker always tells me to break it down into small steps, and start with the smallest step possible and work it up from there.
I suggest beginning on a new or full moon and re-evaluating ourselves on the full or new moon, as is done in Buddhist monasteries in a practice known as ‘sojong’ where they constantly evaluate their progress. This creates a two-week cycle of practice and reevaluation.
Here’s an example. You have a hard time showering, shaving, and getting out of bed at a certain time daily. Break it down. These are actually three different challenges, and you’re going to want to fixate upon them one at a time, from easiest to hardest. So say, showering daily will be easiest for you. You pick that one to tackle first. What’s the smallest step you can do towards showering daily? Maybe it’s just getting into the shower and sitting in the tub for a few minutes. Maybe your next step will be to undress and sit in the shower daily. Then you can add in water and getting yourself wet and drying off daily.
So you’ve picked out your first task. It’s the smallest you can possibly make it while still building up towards your goal. Now, I’m going to reveal another trick a social worker gave me. It’s actually obligatory when they set down goals with their people to make their goals ‘SMART’.
So here’s how it goes:
‘S’ stands for ‘specific’
‘M’ stands for ‘measurable’
‘A’ stands for ‘achievable’
‘R’ stands for ‘realistic’
‘T’ stands for ‘time’
Now, I’m sure if you search ‘smart goals’, you’ll get plenty of great descriptions on how to use these. My main thing is that the ‘SMART’ goals acronym helps you set up a goal that is doable and identified clearly so that you know if you’ve succeeded or failed.
Now let’s take the shower thing and set a ‘SMART’ goal with it.
S: You’re going to get into the shower every day. M: you will be sitting in the shower, fully clothed, for 5 or more minutes with no water running. A: for the sake of this example, I’m going to say that yes, I can achieve this (right now, I do actually do full showers, so this is just an example peoples. The point is to sit down and ask yourself if you can actually do this, physically and mentally. If the answer is no, try a smaller goal.) ‘R’: in my case, it’s realistic to be able to get into a shower and sit for 5+ minutes. But say, if you’re physically handicapped, it may not be realistic. T: We’re going to do this for two weeks, 5-7 times a week.
So that’s how you do a ‘SMART’ goal. My further advice is: do it with someone who is a positive influence in your mental health life. Don’t do it with someone stressful, or someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge your problems. Pick someone realistic and helpful, if you have one available. Call a hotline and ask for a social worker to help talk you through it, at worse (in Canada, there’s the 811 line, option 2, that’s a social worker).
Here’s some more examples. You’ve decided to go at you mental health healing alone. You’re beginning by tackling your anxiety, and you’ve decided to work on your social anxiety. You’ve picked out a reiki practitioner as well as a natural remedy advisor, as well as a yoga class to attend.
You’re going to pick the smallest one: say, the yoga class to attend. So you set yourself a ‘SMART’ goal in regards to this yoga class, like this: ‘S’: attend X yoga class ‘M’: for an hour session ‘A’: yes, you can mentally do it. ‘R’ Yes, you can physically do it in regards to getting there and doing the basic poses. ‘T’: you will do this for two weeks, then reevaluate.
Here’s another example: You’ve decided to try a mixture of western medicine and ayurvedic practices. You’ve researched an ayurvedic healer, the info for your family doctor, as well as a dog park to play your dog at for stress relief. You break it down into the smallest step: it could be either to make a doctor appointment or try the dog park. Let’s say it’s the doctor appointment. So you set a ‘SMART’ goal like this:
‘S’: call to make an appointment with family doctor ‘M’ make an appointment for as quickly as possible ‘A’: yes, you can do it mentally. ‘R’: yes, you can do it realistically. You have no large phone phobias or difficulty physically making phone calls. ‘T’: you will do this within two weeks.
Now, where’s the pagan side in all of this? Of course, there are many ways to use your spirituality to bolster your ‘SMART’ goals. You can try and set spiritual goals to do in tandem with more ‘physical’ goals, even doing them together so that your spiritual practice makes it easier to perform your healing steps.
- Lighting purifying incense daily (when you’re there to supervise it burning) to cleanse and purify your home/energy. Perform in preparation for more agitating chores/mentally disruptive tasks.
- Meditate/sit in contemplation daily, at a specific time. Depending on the sort of meditation you do, it can either calm you down from a difficult activity, raise energy before a difficult activity, or take a breather in the middle of a difficult activity.
- Draw a divination card or rune each day, either at the beginning of the day to suggest contemplative observation of one’s day, or at the end of the day to help ‘summarize’ the day and bring closure and reflection.
- Perform an offering ritual. This can be as simple as laying a cookie with intent out on a windowsill for the fairies.
- Do some breathing exercises.
- Do some energy moving exercises. I recommend doing grounding ones for beginning your path, so as to not raise agitated energy that you aren’t ready to work with yet. If you do raise energy, remember to always ground it once you are done.
- Recite a prayer. It can be a long formal recitation with prayer beads, or it can simply be a moment to talk to a preferred deity.
- Sit in nature.
Again, these are just ideas. Whatever you feel is right, pick it and do the smallest step possible.
I wish you all the best. In our next step, we will look at the ‘how’ of doing these goals.