Way #4 – Keep Growing (Plant new seeds!)
Mindfulness can help you ‘deliver’ on your New Year Resolutions!
We often decide to do things that are well-intended but sputter out and become disappointments instead of accomplishments… sound familiar?
That’s because it happens to all of us, and many people give up making resolutions for personal growth because they anticipate disappointment and avoid it by not challenging themselves. Unfortunately, this can leave us with a bigger disappointment – in ourselves!
Here’s something that can help!
By the time you finish reading this page, you’ll begin to understand and use the one tool that changes the way you do everything – mindfulness.
You’ve heard about it, maybe tried it, but what is it, actually?
One important aspect of being mindful is to bring all of your attention and awareness to the one thing you are always doing, right now, in this very moment – being alive in your own body!
Not multi-tasking, not lost in the mind somewhere, not letting your inner voices have their way with you. Instead, being fully present, here and now – aware of what’s actually happening inside and around you – sensations, sights, sounds, etc.
Try a one-minute session of Mindful Attention – and see how it feels!
Assuming you’re sitting down, take a full breath, in through the nose and then just let it go. Let your shoulders drop and relax your mouth and jaw.
Let yourself breathe like this for one minute.
Each time you let the breath go, let your shoulders drop, and relax your mouth and jaw. Notice any sounds, sights, or sensations that arise and let them be what they are.
Each exhale, feel the senstions of relxation deepen, and feel the weight of your body pressing down into the chair.
Let yourself have one minute of mindfully feeling your breathing body relax.
Breathe out – drop shoulders – relax mouth and jaw – listen and let be.
This short practice can have profound results for mindfulness, relaxation, and stress reduction – and it’s effectiveness increases over time. I recommend you don’t make a commitment to do it, or put it in your schedule – just experiment with it when you think of it. When you become aware of feeling tense or too busy, try it for one minute – and see how you feel.
Just one minute of Mindful Attention can bring benefits.
Now let’s see how mindfulness can help us ‘deliver’ on our New Year Resolutions for personal growth!
A powerful aspect of mindfulness enables us to dive beneath surface thoughts and feelings to make more skillful choices based on core values and deeper understanding.
We all want to do well in this experience of living life, and it’s easy to get caught up and motivated by strong desires for self-improvement, and then find them fading.
Here’s a 4-Step mindfulness practice for more effective personal growth!
- Step 1.
Before commiting yourself to a new behavior, like working out, loosing weight, or starting a meditation practice, become mindful of the fact that you’re already just fine as a human being. As Zen master Suzuki Roshi told his students, “You’re perfect just the way you are, and you could use a little improvement!”
It’s a Zen paradox, where both parts are true – but the emphasis is on the ‘already perfect’, because that’s the part we tend to discount – thinking we have to put off self-acceptance until we do the ‘self-improvement.’ In fact, our efforts are much more effective when we’re being self-friendly!
- Step 2.
Mindfully consider the new behavior you want to adopt, and take a deeper look at what you’re getting out of not doing it. There’s a payoff, sometimes hidden, in even seemingly negative behavior. For instance, maybe I get to eat whatever I want, or indulge my laziness – these might not seem like ‘good’ reasons, but they are big payoffs (e.g. security blanket or coping mechanism) that we need to be willing to give up if we want to enjoy the rewards of upgrading our living habits.
- Step 3.
Now look at what it might be costing you not to make the change, and become mindful of this question: “What price am I paying for not making the effort to change this?” Don’t necessarily try to answer it, but just be with the question and see what arises.
- Step 4.
And finally, take a few minutes to set an inner intention (“I intend to…) and visualize what it will be like when you’ve embraced the new behavior. See yourself in your mind’s eye feeling the quiet joy and peacefulness of practicing mindfulness in your daily activities and enjoying the rewards of personal growth.
Whenever you feel your motivation for positive personal change fading (and like all feelings it will come and go), return to these steps to refresh your vision and re-kindle your motivation!