As January has ended seemingly in the blink of an eye, we may wonder where our time is going, and how to can possibly accomplish our goals, set our intentions, and do all the things we want to do. As we focus on doing, try to take a step back and think about you, in the present moment, just being. It is so easy to get swept up in the wave of to-do lists and schedules (as a former TV producer, I thrive on lists and deadlines). Especially at this time of year, many of us take stock of our lives and resolve to set new goals and intentions for change.
So often, these best-laid plans are derailed due to impatience or expectations (sound familiar?). In short, impatience and expectations are a few reasons why I meditate, to balance out those natural inclinations to want what I want when I want it. While we may strive to accomplish our "end game," the more we focus on what we can control vs. what we can't control, the happier we become. It’s no surprise then that the most effective way to usher in change is to do so consciously – using mindfulness. By making the choice to shift to more mindful attitudes, we can begin to break old patterns and cultivate long-lasting change. So how do we begin?
Choose fluidity instead of rigidity. Or: be like water. Be open to the reality of the present moment – its peaks and valleys, the possibility for failure (a note on failure - a friend says that she doesn't fail, she learns. I couldn't agree more) and the potential for success in any given situation. In this way, we become more fluid, more resilient and far less likely to give up at the first hurdle.
Choose self-compassion instead of self-criticism. Or: show love to yourself. A kind inner voice that supports us, rather than judges us, is far more likely to elicit our motivation to grow and change. Though it is so easy to fall into negative self-talk, consciously stop yourself from going down that road and choose a new script.
Choose value-oriented intentions instead of all-or-nothing goals. Or: don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Too often, when our plans hit a detour, we give up altogether instead of recognizing the progress we made. This behavior sabotages our efforts. Mindfulness can help us both make and follow through on such resolutions, as well as provide strategies that help us more effectively handle the stresses and challenges that often derail resolutions.
Choose to be proactive instead of reactive. Or: Tame your fight-or-flight response. One of the most effective ways to literally change your brain is meditation (check out this Harvard study). Develop or reignite a regular meditation practice. When used reactively, mindfulness can only help in the heat of the moment, but when used proactively, it guides our thoughts and actions before the problem even becomes a problem.
Now that your desire to start/ ramp up your meditation practice is (hopefully) piqued, how do you get started? If you're like me when I was starting my practice, you need a teacher to sit you down and guide you through the process. If you want to dip your toe in the water first, no worries, check out these resources. As Carl Bard said, "Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning."
Sylvia Maldonado is the Founder of breathe bar.
Editor's note: Private meditation sessions are on sale the month of February 2018! Click here to purchase.