List of possible words to use for discernment practice

Discerning a Word for 2023

What is it about the New Year that is so refreshing, inspiring us to reboot our lives? Many opt to write a list of resolutions only to abandon them a few weeks in. Instead, how about this as an alternative – discerning a word to lead you through the year?

Why discern a word?

Imagine going on a walk with a good friend. As you walk along, your friend points out interesting things along the way; things you would otherwise not have noticed. They invite you to view the world through a different lens and, as you do so, it enriches your own experience. You may find yourself slowing down, altering your focus or perhaps even taking a new path.

Discerning a word for the year is a lot like walking with that friend. Your word acts as a companion and guide, offering you a chance to see things in a new way and this in turn can lead to new experiences and outcomes. Your word serves to focus and expand you, leading you home to who you truly are.

How to Discern a Word

Discerning a word is an exercise in listening to your true inner voice – the part of you that is calm, wise and clear. Here’s one way to do it:

  1. Set aside some time so you won’t be distracted. Find somewhere quiet such as the library, garden or your favourite chair.
  2. Set the intention to listen to your inner voice regarding what word or short phrase will guide and support you in the year ahead. Remember that this is a heart exercise, not a head exercise, and it can’t be forced. When you’re going on a bush walk and listening to the sounds around you, you don’t have to make the leaves rustle or the birds, cheep. They do that on their own. Your role is to be open to whatever sounds emerge. Similarly, you don’t have to make your word appear. Just sit quietly and allow the word to come to you.
  3. Take a few calming breaths, grow still and ask yourself, ‘What word would serve me this year?’ You might like to take a look at the list below to get you started. As you gaze at the list, slowly read each word. Does any one in particular jump out at you? Consider words that attract you but also take note of any words that repel you. This may be the very word your inner self would like you to pay attention to.
List of possible words to use for discernment practice

Remember that there’s no pressure to choose the ‘right’ word either. There is no right word; only interesting possibilities, each with something different to offer.

Don’t be surprised if your word doesn’t come to you immediately. It may well rise up in the coming hours, days or weeks. The point is to let your inner self know that you are open to listening. Then release the need for a speedy answer and see what happens.

I’ve got my word. Now what do I do?

A few suggestions:

  • Write out your word and put it in a prominent place, e.g. your fridge, bedroom mirror, wallet, the dashboard of your car or set it as your screen saver. When you notice it, pause and consider what it has to say to you in that moment.
  • Create an art piece with paints or collage materials or print out your word using a fancy script generator then do some meditative doodling.
  • Journal about your word using these prompts:
    • What would my life look like if I embraced this word?
    • What fears does this word spark? What possibilities?
    • What beliefs about myself or the world is this word inviting me to see differently?
    • What do I need to let go of?
    • What am I being invited to take up?
  • Search for quotes containing your word. What new insights do they provide?
  • Draw a mind map with your word in the centre. Around the edge, write down the different areas of your life, e.g. family, friends, work, education, volunteering, home, leisure, inner life. Spend some time reflecting on each of these areas in relation to your word.

My Word

My word for this year is pathway. It’s a word that suggests forward movement, unfolding, trusting in the process of life, curiosity and an invitation to both enjoy where I am on the path and dream about the way ahead. As we step into 2023, may your own pathway be filled interest, awareness, moments of stillness and wonder.

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