Five Steps for a Mindful New Year 

 September 7, 2020

It is that time of year when we all proclaim our New Year resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, stop eating sweets, go Keto or on Whole30, exercise more, yogify yourself and buy a gym membership that we will never use, but at least we will feel like we did something, am I right? Some are more dedicated than others and have greater or lesser willpower and discipline, but perhaps trying a new and more mindful approach this year may yield some new positive results.

Realize each moment is a new beginning. One of the most powerful concepts of mindfulness is the realization that each moment is a new moment and therefore a new beginning. Whether your awakening and path for self-improvement begins in the New Year or at any other time. The past is the past, and the only moment you have to do anything or change anything is now, in this present moment. One of the easiest ways to come into presence is with the noticing of the next incoming and outgoing breath, paying attention to the sensations, natural rhythm, and cycle of the breath.

1. Be happy with the present. First, bring an open awareness to where you are now. Be honest with yourself. What aspects of your life are going well? What might you like to improve? What might you like to build or create? Is there someone you would like to connect or strengthen your relationships with? What other areas might need some compassionate attention, this could be with your intimate relationships, family, career, financial, or health...etc.

2. Say goodbye to negative feelings or viewpoints. Life is too short. There is no need to criticize or be negative of where you are in any aspect of living but simply to bring an open and nonjudgmental attention to it. Once you have identified an area of performance or aspect of your life you would like to improve you can begin to face it, which is where mindfulness naturally steers us, turning inward and observing our relationship within ourselves and how we relate to the outer world around us.

I am a firm believer in Occam’s Razor and the KISS method, otherwise known as “Keep it simple, stupid.” This was ingrained in me during my time in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh by our no-nonsense medical officer who was retired military. So let’s keep it simple.

4. Set a realistic intention and attainable goal. For example if you goal is to be more healthy, articulate or write that down so you can clarify it with yourself. Is it nutritional in nature, getting more exercise, getting a personal trainer, or being more active and getting outdoors, less wine and takeout, and more whole fruits and vegetables, and productive conversations that foster greater connection with others. Whatever it is defining your intention and making sure it is within your capability.

5. Commit with focus, discipline, and balanced effort. When you harness your mental energy behind a course of action real change can occur. Visualize harnessing the wind with skill on a sailboat. Thoughts lead to behaviors and actions that can take off and create something great. Successful people often talk about dreaming big, or not being afraid to fail even after failing, being told no, or that they can’t achieve something. We all fail, but it is okay. Research says it can take some time to form a habit but by making change part of your routine one day at a time, moment by moment. When you commit to these efforts with courage you may just find when you get out of your own way you can achieve real and lasting change. May you be safe and well this New Year!

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