IN the words of the great singer Gerry Rafferty, 'If you get it wrong, you’ll get it right next time.'

New Year resolutions are hard; we’re over three weeks into 2024 and it’s humbling  for me to admit that my resolution for a daily mindful walk over at Lady Dixon Park has already slipped through the cracks of last week's ice.

It’s cold and dark outside and part of me is drawn to stay inside, in the cosy warmth and comfort of my home; and yet another part of me knows that my body feels best when I am active and my mind feels best in the fresh air and sunlight, surrounded by the trees and woodland of the park. Especially the little Zen garden where I often go to sit and take in the sounds of the birds and the tranquility of the present moment that is always at hand. 

This is where my mindfulness practice sets in. Instead of getting caught up in negative self-talk, my mindfulness practice allows me to acknowledge that wanting to stay warm inside and wanting to get outdoors can both be true at the same time (this is pure Zen).

What I have been taught to do is to take a deep breath, offering myself self-compassion. This allows me the opportunity to make a choice to take the action which is most supportive for my overall wellbeing, which is of course to get outside for that walk, dander or stroll. I can, as they say in the practice of Zen, start again. 

I don’t need to be told of the benefits of a walk through the park, especially at this time of year as we enter Imbolc, the time  when soon I will notice the buds coming out in the bushes and daffodils beginning to appear, especially alongside the Lagan bank. 

How lucky we are to be surrounded by so many beauty spots that bring about a sense of wellbeing by just being there: Colin Glen, Black Mountain, Divis, our parks – each offers its own magic moments; each is awaiting our arrival to share in nature's abundance of health and gentle, slow, mindful steps are all we need as we take in the beauty of the moment. In the words of my hero David Bowie, it's the gift of sound and vision; the sense of smell, of the forest, the river, the flora and fauna; to feel the earth beneath our feet, the sky above our head.

I invite you to start your day with this mindful approach to setting an intention... 

Take a few breaths and notice what’s arising within you, right here, right now.

Ask yourself how you want to show up today, and why. 

For me, it’s the walk in the park, with the knowledge that it’s good for my soul. Refreshing, renewing, and for me, rewiring.

Write down or speak your intention out loud as a clear, positive statement.

Trust me, it works – just do it. 

My intention is to choose the things that support my overall wellbeing and to give myself and others the grace to start again, as many times as it takes. 

What’s yours?