Pause. Reflect. Receive: Using the Circle of Life to Move Into 2020

Pause. Reflect. Receive: Using the Circle of Life to Move Into 2020

It’s already the start of a new month and less than a month away until the beginning of a new YEAR! That’s right–2020 (we’re in a new decade, y’all) is right around the corner. Around this time of year, I’m usually scribbling away in my planner, my mind busy coming up with all of the new goals and milestones I can or “need” to set for the following year. This time around, however, I find myself more hesitant to put pen to paper–not because I don’t have some idea of where I want to focus my energy but because part of me is saying stop and move slowly.

I recently had a tarot reading* where I asked for insight into the new year, especially in regards to my career. I drew 7 cards, all which spoke directly to some of the lessons I had begun to learn this year and of the lessons to come. In summary, my reading was a reminder to pursue what I love without fear of judgment towards myself and without judging others. Befittingly, it was also a reminder for me to slow down and be intentional with how and where I spent my energy. My tarot reading illuminated what I felt intuitively and was a powerful mirror for me as I received the message I needed to hear to take a breath and pause.

This is challenging for me, as it may be for many of us. When I was younger, I was known as an overachiever, and I considered idle time to be time wasted. I also have a vata mind, which in Ayurveda means a mind that moves swiftly and creatively but one also prone to over-stimulation and learning and forgetting things quickly. To counteract my busy mind, I’ve always relied on planners, daily tasks and lists (and meditation) to focus my attention. After over 20 years of list-making and goal-setting, the fact that I haven’t written any goals for the new year and that I’m actually relieved about it, is highly irregular.

Once I accepted the invitation to pause, I found that my mind naturally desired to look to the past for the recognition of patterns of thoughts or behaviors that would inform the future. This is where reflection comes in. Time passes each moment whether we are cognizant of it’s passing or not. Likewise, change is a constant. Intentional or conscious change, however, is situational and up to each individual to both identify and manifest it. Before we decide to change something, it is important to pause and reflect on the past and our current circumstances in order to identify the areas and ways in which change can occur.

If you’re looking to change something in your life but haven’t taken the time to really take inventory, I highly encourage you to do so. This can be through quiet meditation and allowing thoughts to settle until you have clarity. It can be through journaling or another form of artistic expression. It could be through conversing with a close friend or speaking with a life coach. Do whatever you need to find time for contemplation.

One tool that I use and I recommend to others is The Circle of Life.

The Circle of Life map and the 12 areas of primary food

The Circle of Life is a great tool for evaluating each area of your life that feeds you. As important as nutrition is for your physical health, these 12 primary foods are even more important for the overall satisfaction and happiness you feel daily. Primary foods can include elements such as having a strong spiritual practice where we feel connected to self and others, enjoyable physical activity and a rewarding, energizing career. The more primary food we receive from each of these areas, the less we depend on secondary food to feel “healthy.”


I encourage you to print the worksheet below so that you can evaluate and reflect upon the past year.

  1. Think carefully about an area of primary food. What’s going well? What’s challenging? What are you feeling in this moment? If you have past journal entries or planners, you can also use those as tools to review past events or feelings and jog your memory.
  2. Pick a primary food and then place a dot on the line to indicate your level of satisfaction in that area. A dot towards the center indicates dissatisfaction, and a dot toward the periphery indicates satisfaction. For example, if your home environment is safe and welcoming and makes you feel comfortable, place a dot on the line somewhere towards the outside of the circle.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 + 2 for all twelve primary foods.
  4. Connect the dots to see your Circle of Life map.
  5. Identify imbalances. Which areas of your life are you most satisfied with? The least? Determine where to spend more time and energy to create balance.
  6. Summarize up each area of primary food. For example, “My Circle of Life map shows that I’m dissatisfied with my physical activity. I’m not currently active, although in the summer I was moving more. I want to get back into a regular exercise routine.”


Now that you have reflected and summarized the areas of your life holistically, receive them. This means accepting what you revealed about yourself without judgment or shame. Avoid justifying why or blaming yourself for not being where you want to be in a particular area. There’s time yet to make a change.

So receive the information,

accept it,

thank yourself and your body for experiencing this past year with you through all the seasons,

and then make space for the new intentions you are now ready to create.



*Note: Tarot cards have a long history and tradition of usage, as well as a long history of stigma. While there are some that may use tarot as a form of divination, it is more often used as a tool for self-discovery. Like meditation, rituals or crystals, tarot can be helpful in gaining more awareness of one’s life and identifying ways to grow and move through situations where one may feel stuck. If you would like to explore tarot for yourself, Triluna offers private workshops and events that are great for familiarizing yourself with this unique tool.

* Contents of the Circle of Life is in reference to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

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