This statement can be extremely difficult to wrap one’s head around when feelings of isolation, sadness, depression, anger, fear, anxiousness or anything else in life that presents itself as less than optimal happens to show up.

After hearing these words “you are exactly where you need to be,” at a time when I was struggling to find any kind of joy in my life, I found myself desperate enough to actually embrace it. What if I was exactly where I needed to be? At that time, I was exhausted from a job that took over my life, was alone on New Years Eve, and fresh out of a break up. I recall sitting on the floor in my recently purchased condo with boxes set up as a table for my laptop, no television or internet, and my bed scheduled for delivery a few days away. There were plenty of invites to celebrate the New Year from friends who knew I was in a bad place; however my state of mind was nothing but a host for miserable company.

Somehow, in the place of despair and uncertainty, I repeated the words aloud, “I am exactly where I need to be.” The pain of hearing my own voice say the words that I did not want to believe was enough to send waterworks streaming. Mainly because deep down, I knew it was true; I was exactly where I needed to be and most certainly did not ask for the feelings of sadness, misery and pain I was in.

I had to share space with truthful emotions in order to gain a clearer perspective on what was really going on inside.

I recall this story of what happened to me in 2012, because even though it is now five years later, I return to those same words, “you are exactly where you need to be” through the joyous moments, and additionally through the moments of shame, vulnerability, doubt, anger, and sadness experienced throughout life. Countless hours of my life were spent running away from feeling, trying to avoid pain or loneliness by filling the calendar with constant things to do while conducting life in autopilot. However, the truth always has a way to surface. Now that I was where I needed to be, how was I supposed to make a shift and recharge the zest for life when all I could feel was unhappiness?

The shift happened by learning how to embrace being alone and making time to sit with my thoughts, as painful as they were.

For many of us, this is a concoction for disaster. Time alone allowed me to have a panoramic view of my life and how I was an active participant in its outcome. I was needy, co-dependent, wanted to feel love, sought after praise, continually strived for perfection, was afraid to voice my opinion, lacked confidence, and suffered from debilitating thoughts associated with a distorted body image.

It took feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin and being in constant conflict with an overly active mind to look for an alternative way out.

This process took time, but my thirsty curiosity for yoga knowledge, unveiled wonders of travel, powerful energy work, and other healing modalities, there was something else that stuck: it was the process of learning how to bring awareness into my life without judgment. The discovery of learning that I am not my thoughts, and that I have the ability to cultivate compassion for myself, led me on the path to self-love and considerate inquiry.

The process of meditation and learning how to bring mindfulness into my daily life unlocked an inner gift to self-healing.

With mindfulness, we learn how to get present, no matter what is happening. There are aspects of maintaining presence that are extremely uncomfortable and unfamiliar that we avoid the present moment completely by checking into autopilot, avoiding the situation entirely, or lying to ourselves. However, by making time for stillness, there is a process of deeper listening from the inside out that serves as guidance through the terrain of difficulty life presents. Through mindfulness, we learn to shift perspective, create opportunities to practice kindness, acceptance, empathy, and resilience for ourselves so that when we encounter frustration, or perceive hurt, anger, and pain from others, we are equipped with tools that foster love which help absorb the sharp edges of hurtful actions and words without the lingering pain. Mindful awareness is a conscious acquirement of equanimity.

Below are seven tips to begin 2017 with mindful awareness and what it means to embrace: YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE

1) Start where you are. Reflect.

This is beginning of the treasure map to rediscover the buried qualities of ourselves that are overlooked by futuristic thinking or ruminating in the past. Taking the first step is a date with vulnerability and feeling a bit unsure if you’ll be enamored by what shows up. However, without starting, we will never know. Identify where you are without judgment, self-ridicule, and shame. Embody current emotions and attributes of thought by playing witness to what is happening without reaction. This will turn the key to ignite a driving force out of discontent.

2) Set an intention. Write it down.

Create a meaningful purpose statement for the New Year. What is it that makes you feel alive? This “aliveness” is energy. Trust the electrical surge of connection, positivity and happiness the sensation brings to your state of being. This feeling is directly linked to emitting energy. Energy produced triggers a chemical release in the body to create thoughts of action. Thoughts conjured will contribute to connection and produce an outcome of desired action. Your intention is a choice to live life in a way that represents your truth and ultimately what you choose create for yourself. Happiness is a choice.

3) Identify obstacles. Embrace friction and detours that show up.

Not all treasure maps are designed for the hidden treasure to easily be discovered. There are endless variables in life that we do not have control over. How do you deal with not being in control? Pinpoint the blockages of carrying out an intention. You will be better equipped to maneuver personal diversions and barriers that arise on the path.

4) Practice. Find a form of meditation that works for you.

When practicing meditation, we learn how to pay attention and deepen the ability to draw awareness to thoughts, physical sensations, and our reactions to them. In many modalities of meditation, the practitioner is guided to a place of release, calm, and insight. With stillness, we are able to do the deep listening required to heal, manifest, and create the life we want to live. Types of meditation to explore: Buddhist – Zen (Zazen, seated), Vipassana (insight), Mindfulness (present moment attention), Love and Kindness (Metta); Hindu: Vedic & Yogic- Mantra (syllable/word), Transcendental (provided mantra), Yoga (chakras, third-eye), Self-Inquiry (“I Am”); Chinese: Taoist, Qigong; Guided: (script, in-studio, combination of many forms).

5) Unattach. Change is our only constant. How we react to change is reminder of effort and release.

We get older. Careers change. We move homes. We fall in love multiple times. Priorities and goals shift. Bring awareness to the effects of how you may cling to what once was or what is expected to be and how current levels of happiness fluctuate. Let go of lofty expectations, perceived outcomes, and a fixed mindset to open the doors for embracing change. Who knows, you may be surprised as to what you discover?

6) Forgiveness. Be kind.

Not everyone is able to operate on a level of higher consciousness and awareness. The moment I realized that people in my life did the best they could with the state of consciousness (awareness) available to them at that time, the floodgates of forgiveness and love poured from my heart. There was less anger, animosity, and trepidation that lingered. Instead, I was able to release energy that debilitated my growth of exercising love and compassion. Try on compassion with all walks of life and notice how you feel.

7) Gratitude. Start your day with a simple thought of gratitude and everything will shift…for the better.

I became less judgmental, more insightful, and willing to be of service in the lives of others. I gained greater appreciation for all that I had and for those who helped contribute meaning in my life. Gratitude is a contagious act. Make a list of 100 aspects of your life that you are grateful for.

Through constant practice, I have cultivated awareness and rediscovered myself by embracing tools of mindfulness which has helped me accept and appreciate life’s lessons, ultimately allowing me to tap into an inner resource of peace, love, and joy that I had no idea existed. I am exactly where I need to be: newfound happiness in my career path, in a healthy thriving relationship with a man I am deeply in love with, and meditation a conscious stable of everyday living. Sometimes, not knowing that we are exactly where we need to be requires a mindful shift in order to embrace gifted treasures of the present moment.