If there was one resolution that could be the umbrella change that shifts the course of 2015, it is learning to live a mindful life. Every New Years resolution has one common purpose; to enhance our life. The idea of being mindful, and living a mindful life has to do with being present and being more conscious as life happens. Just like anything, mindfulness is a habit that is cultivated over time. Why not dedicate this next year as the year of Living Mindfully, and watch all your scattered misfit habits slowly fade into the distance. In holistic nutrition, we have a “crowding out” theory. The principle of “crowding out” suggests that you add more to your diet, instead of taking away. By adding healthy, whole foods, you will crowd out the unhealthy foods. Similar with living a mindful life. Rather than swearing off cheese, sugar, carbs, reality TV, smoking, etc, committing to live a mindful life will evolve your consciousness to be attracted activities and foods that raise your energetic vibration. This attraction, while gradual, will become sustainable. You will see, that once committing to a mindful living practice, all you will have to sustain is showing up for that practice on a daily basis. Over time you will have developed an instinct to be present with life as it happens, and how you choose to respond to everything that is presented to you. Without even trying, your mindful practice will evolve into mindful living. Sarah Varcas says “we do this by honing our focus on how we interpret the events of our lives, the behavior of those around us and the complexities presented each day merely by being human”. Our mindful practices will teach us how to respond vs. react, leading us to a profound sense of self awareness. According to Sara Varcas, “Knowledge about ourselves draws the highest price right now”.
To make it simple as well as sustainable, dedicate each month of 2015 to a different perception of mindfulness, while staying committed to the mindful practices of the month before. To give you some guidance, we have come up with 12 mindful practices for each month that build upon the next.
January: Begin or commit to a Yoga practice. Yoga is a mindful based, mostly physical practice. Traditionally, Yoga postures were performed daily to prepare the body for a meditation practice. Today, Yoga is in almost every city and populated town. If you can’t find it in your town, there are a plethora of online videos for every level. January is the perfect time to start as many studios have amazing New Year specials, that give you long term packages for discounted rates. At Yoga Bound we are offering $360 for a 6 month unlimited Yoga package. Decide this January to commit to it at least 3x per week and watch your life change before your eyes. You will never understand how you were able to exist without it.
February: In February take up the mindful practice of doing less. Everyone is busy, yet, figure out what is really important and what is not, before you fill your day with numerous tasks. Pick 3 very important things to get done each day, and leave room between each task in your schedule. If you do less, you can do things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration. The quality of how you do things will improve, and you will see yourself connecting to each day in a more present, satisfying and clear way.
March: Commit this month to doing one thing at a time. Single-tasking vs. multi-tasking. The first few days this month you might dedicate to noticing your multi-tasking habits. For example, when you are eating, you notice yourself reading a magazine. Or when you are walking, you find yourself browsing on your phone. Learn this month to follow the zen proverb “When walking walk, when eating eat”.
April: Your mantra for this month is “do it slowly and deliberately”. Notice when you tend to rush through things to get each task over with. As the month begins, what task usually makes you want to rush through it? Whenever you find yourself rushing this month, pause, and take your time with it. Make your actions deliberate and present. This might turn into one of your favorite things to do!
May: Spend at least 5 minutes each day doing NOTHING. Make space in your day to just be. Maybe its sitting outside after your lunch and watching the clouds pass by, the birds fly, the trees blow. Possibly watching a sunset, laying on the earth with your eyes closed. Find time each day for space of being and the joy of nothing.
June: Piggybacking on the month of may, June is the month to pick up a meditation practice if you do not have one, or lengthening the current one you do have. As a ritual, try to pick the same time each day in the same place to sit and be with your quiet. Start gradual; 5 minutes the first week, and add 1 minute each day after that. A simple meditation is focusing on your breath. Every time you inhale say to yourself “SAT” and every time you exhale, say “NAM”. This means nothing more than “I AM”. Whenever you notice your mind elsewhere, bring it back to the simple meditation mantra.
July: Become aware of your thinking--are you constantly worrying about the future? Learn to recognize when you’re doing this, and practice bringing yourself back to the present with a long, slow, deep, calm, breath. Every time you are conscious of yourself worrying about the future, turn your attention to what you are doing right now and the deliberate actions and joy you are receiving from being alive in your body with what you are doing NOW.
August: This month is all about how you connect to others. When you are talking to someone, be present. Do you ever notice that when you are talking with someone, you are thinking about something else, worrying about the future or even worse, on your phone? Instead, make it a choice to be present with who you are with, listen to their words and find joy in their company.
September: This month is all about eating. Be conscious, every meal to eat slowly and savor your food. Have a moment of blessing your food and all the abundance and nourishment it provides your life. Try not to eat in a rush or cram it down your throat. Savor each bite, notice the flavors and the texture to get the most out of your food. You will also eat less and digest your food better.
October: Find time every day to walk as a meditation. 15 minutes each day, without your phone, notice the sensation of walking and all the lovely things you notice as you walk outside. Thich Nhat Hanh says “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet”. Each step you take on your daily walks this month, your footsteps are like a healing prayer of gratitude for the generosity of the earth. There are so many more beautiful, and stabilizing images and walking practices in the book Walk Yourself Well by Sherry Brourman.
November: Live Slowly and Savor your Life. Just as you are learning about the practices of eating mindfully and walking meditations, this month is dedicated to savoring the experience of everything you do. Allow cleaning, cooking, walking, eating, driving, listening, paying bills, be a slower experience and notice what it feels like to savor each and every moment. What happens when you really tune in to even the most mundane errand? This month, tune into the sights and sounds and awaken your senses to the world around you.
December: This month, everything that you speak is kindness, and serves to uplift, support, and move forward. You might have to take time being aware of the lower vibration words that come out of your mouth for the first week. Once you notice what you tend to say, you are able to create space for responding instead with loving kindness. Eventually you will see it in your thoughts and your actions as well.
This is the year of transformation! There is nothing more powerful and healing as committing to your mindful life.
Happy New Year!