I’m not a big fan of the “new year, new you/me” approach. The old you/me got us this far and should be celebrated rather than discarded. I’m also not really into making new year’s resolutions. I believe in constant evolution and self-improvement but I’m not a fan of adding unnecessary stress and pressure to my life and resolutions are just judgmental little nudges that stress me out. They give me a reason to be hard on myself when I don’t follow through. Does anyone really need extra reasons for negative self-talk?! Having said that, I always welcome a fresh start and I’m happy to have put 2023 to bed. It was a rough year. And I do have a plan for 2024 – not a resolution, but a resolute plan. My plan is all about taking pauses and practicing mindful awareness. 

Mindfulness, or mindful awareness, is one of those words that has been around forever and still feels new-ish. It’s often associated with meditation. The idea is that meditation brings about a state of mindful awareness. But many of us are convinced we’re lousy meditators. We’re impatient, too busy, too unfocused – basically, we miss the point.  There’s really no such thing as bad meditating. There’s also no downside to taking even just 5 minutes for yourself every day and doing nothing but breathing while sitting comfortably with your eyes gently closed. A wandering mind is not an epic fail. It’s part of the process. And if you honor yourself with a little meditation time every day, you start to notice the wandering mind, acknowledge it, maybe learn to stop judging it, and bring yourself back to your focus (which, for me, is always breathing). 

The crazy beautiful thing is the calm that comes from any form of regular meditation – even just 5 minutes a day – and the way it brings about a clear understanding and state of being present. The calm brings clarity with a dose of patience and makes space. In that space, you can let go of premature worries and focus on the now. Focusing on the now is an opportunity to focus on yourself in a compassionate, non-judgmental, and empowering way. It’s no joke! I used to feel that exercise was the most important tool into the wellness toolkit and shifted that thinking to diet, recognizing you really are what you eat. I’ve more recently come to understand that mindfulness is actually the foundation. Sustained self care generally requires some measure of mindfulness. I’m only able to sustain healthy eating and regular exercise when I’m practicing mindfulness. So I’m practicing!

Something to think about: “With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Something to try: Set a number of breaths you’d like to reach, say 20, find a comfortable seat and position and slowly start to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count each inhalation and each exhalation. If you lose count, start again. Keep going until you reach the number you’ve set. Then give yourself a hug and maybe a high five – you just meditated!

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