Mindfulness and New Year’s Resolutions
Mindful Techniques for Successful Resolutions
Lesson repeated until learned. – all mindfulness teachers
Every year the same resolutions appear on the list, taunting us with their refusal to become a lesson learned. Sprinkled among pragmatic goals that focus on weight or blood work numbers are wonderful visions of an idealized you. With such healthy goals in mind, enthusiasm kicks in and off we go, confident that this will be the year!
Creating a list of life-altering resolutions is an excellent first step towards success. Transforming resolutions into reality requires a good plan. Yes, planning. Yet another thing to do when all you want is to set some goals and let will-power take over. Walk confidently into next year with this easy to use mindfulness-based action plan and take charge of your resolutions. All you have to do is pause, breathe, envision, and smile.
Four Mindful Strategies for Health
The single most important of the four strategies, pausing gives you a brief mental time out before committing to something that could impact your health. Mentally and physically step back from the need to decide. You might briefly contemplate a soothing image, finger meditation beads, recite a mantra, or imagine yourself on your favorite beach. The pause need not be long, 30 seconds will do.
Follow the Next Three Breaths
Now pay close attention to the next three breaths. Flow along with the cool air as it enters the nostril and heads down the throat all the way to the bottom of your lungs. Ride with the air, now warmed by the body, as it rises to exit the nose. A brief session of focused breathing brings clarity to the moment.
Envision a Healthier You
When I was young, we were enthralled by a movie about a non-athletic high school student who used the mental imagery of rock music to succeed at track events. Her body responded to the power of her mind, evening her speed to the rhythm of the music, keeping her on pace to win.
Employ the same idea to envision yourself in a state of wellness. See yourself standing tall with good posture. Perhaps you are lean and strong or simply happy and peaceful. Bring that image to mind and hold it until you are confident that the vision is the real you. If you are new to this, it may take a few sessions to fully develop a personal narrative. Once written, the vision will spring forth whenever you need a reminder of just how wonderful you are.
Choosing and Smiling
Now, hold your vision firmly in place and consider your options. Redirect your mind if it wants to focus on what cannot be and give full attention to what is possible. Look beyond the obvious and well-worn ideas. Out of everything available to you right now, choose whatever made you smile.
Successful change is a satisfying and flexible process. Dramatic, unpleasant, and rigidly enforced rules far too often set the stage for failure. Experimenting with infused vinegars for your salad instead of mindlessly using the usual processed dressing seems like such a small thing. Yet that little act gives you a sustainably delicious feeling of empowerment.
So you paused, breathed, and envisioned – but there are no healthy options! The restaurant everyone wanted to go to offers nothing but highly salted fatty food. Staying home or eating a highly caloric meal were not choices that made you smile. Let go of the idea that perfection exists and let your imagination run with each moment. Perhaps you could order cold water fish instead of steak, or an appetizer of broth based soup instead of fried cheese. Set menu? Nothing says you need to eat it all. You are in charge of quantity and the speed at which you eat.
Take charge of the options by deliberately choosing to try new foods and adding in a few regularly scheduled pleasant activities. Healthy eating possibilities are easy to set in place with thoughtful shopping, a few new recipes, and the seasonal goodness that comes in an order of produce from Full Circle. Ask a friend to join you for a Pilates class or go for a leisurely walk on a nature trail. There are so many new activities to try!
The upcoming year will require thousands of decisions. It’s unrealistic to expect that all the options – or that every choice you make – will be perfect. Life is simply not that way. Apply a little mindfulness to each moment, actively seek enjoyment one breath at a time, and watch as your mind converts vision into reality.