"This year I resolve to listen to a podcast about mindfulness once a week." -- Bartholomew
"In 2018 I resolve to take a meditation posture at least once a day." -- Sarah
"I'm going to download the 10% Happier App on my iPhone without anyone's help." -- Aaron.
It's New Year's resolution time and we may be encouraged to make lifestyle changes or improve habits. With the best of intentions, history predicts only 8% of us will be successful in 2018. Simple willpower may work occasionally for some people sometimes; but mindfulness practice is an opportunity to apply a supportive method to your efforts to change habits and obtain health and wellbeing benefits in the process.
Mindfulness is a practice and way of being that empowers our intentions and actively engages the opportunity to reshape our habits. Modern research shows that mindfulness is an effective method for changing habits that begins on the most fundamental level. We have learned that “neurons that fire together, wire together”, creating preferred pathways in our brains. We are setting defaults and preferences on how we respond to our environment in each moment. New brain scanning technology shows that our brain cells branch or retract depending on frequency of use; we are learning that our brain cell networks respond to practice in the same way workouts can strengthen and attune or muscles. From this perspective, our behavior stems from the habits of mind which we practice from moment to moment. These pathways are deeply ingrained from years and years of repeated patterning. These patterns provide us a more or less skillful autopilot depending on the situation, our predispositions, and past reactions.
Training (or untraining) autopilot habits of mind can only be performed in the “now”. The now, the present moment, is the only place we can effectuate intention, learn or not learn, and choose response vs. patterned reaction. Consequently, to shift into “manual mode”, where we can adjust the auto-pilot, we first begin with training the habit of intentionally opening awareness non-judgmentally to whatever is arising and passing in the present moment. In this way, we establish a baseline and habit of noticing the state of our attention and mind. We become sensitive to alarms of “don’t like” or compulsion and learn to find the split second of space where we choose our response rather than mindlessly defaulting. With a little effort, we begin the moment to moment practice of returning to this space whenever we notice we are being caught up in thought or emotion and becoming reactive, or basically any time we don’t already know where our head is. By cultivating this presence of mind, we find more clarity and understanding of what leads to what. We begin resetting defaults and preferences accordingly in each mindful moment – each moment being its own creative vote. These are skills that can be developed and strengthened with mindfulness practice and will be fundamental to realizing the changes you'd like to begin to make this year and into the future.
Take the first step and make a mindfulness resolution. For example,
"For 2018, I resolve to practice being present enough to know whether I am breathing in or out for at least one minute each day, redirecting attention to the breath each time I notice attention has strayed."
Use our form and we'll share your resolution on our site.
Begin practicing a skill and way of being that provides a foundation for creating change and facilitates your efforts to be successful with other New Year's resolution(s) this year and in those that follow.
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