Just as we can’t remember last year’s Christmas presents, it is hard to backtrack with our intentions, unless we followed through impressively.
Usually, resolutions fall flat or get replaced by the business of life. “Eating more greens” can give way to buying groceries, raising children, getting your workouts in and saving enough energy in the day to lie on the couch before doing it all over again.
Although there has long been a cry to ditch the idea of New Year’s resolutions, we have to admit that this time of year is pretty sweet to start fresh. It’s the beginning of a year (duh). The past year may have sucked, and you can leave it behind. Or it may have been epic, and you want to ride the wave as long as possible.
Sounds like aversion and desire – key mindfulness concepts.
This year, instead of the shoulda coulda wouldas (shout out to any of you who watched Sex and The City enough to catch that reference), let’s bring in more of what we want. For real.
We can do this by getting quiet, by getting mindful, by getting still. We can do this by listening. If you want some practices to bring into the New Year while you are still digesting your sangria, here are some ideas to get the ball rolling (or, for the readers who enjoy their puns, the ball dropping).
Take a mindless moment and make it mindful.
We’re not trying to be unrealistic and have every single moment be mindful. But what about the hundreds of grab-your-phone-without-thinking-about-it moments? Take just one of them away. Put your phone in a drawer. Put it on a different table. Turn off alerts. Make it just slightly less accessible so that you can pay attention.
Notice what happens when you are bored.
How often are you bored these days? Probably almost never. We have so many things to occupy our attention that it isn’t at all necessary to have a moment to let our minds wander. There is something beyond boredom, however, and it can feel an awful lot like peace. Let yourself book some time in the calendar for absolutely nothing, every single week.
Listen rather than talk.
We have so many ideas and so many opinions. It can be tempting to dominate conversations just to contribute your thoughts. However, we don’t learn as much from our own thoughts as we do from others’. Dedicate at least one meal a week to talking a lot less and asking more questions. After someone tells you a story, rather than saying, “I know what you mean” and regaling them with your similar story, try saying, “Tell me more.”
It is rare to just eat. We eat, and we talk, we eat, and we study, we eat, and we check our email (because the world might implode if we don’t). Can you have just one meal where you do none of those things? Notice the tendency to fidget – we all have it – or to try to reach for one of your crutches. It seems so easy to just eat, but most of us are definitely out of practice!
Pay more attention to old habits.
We want to create new habits in the New Year, but first, we need to notice why we have the patterns that we do. If you have a tendency to drink a big glass of wine every night, rather than insisting on cold turkey quitting, pay attention to how you feel just before you pour the glass. Notice your emotions before, during and after. Notice what is underneath the habit.
According to mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn, “the real meditation is how you live your life.” Here’s to more of that in 2019.