Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Starting Fresh In 2013

January, for many of us is a fresh start, a time of goal setting and planning.  It's a new year and an opportunity to become a new person. 

So, what's your big goal this year?  What are you resolving to do?  Who are you hoping to be?

Whether you pledged to lose weight, promised to be more organized, save money, or any resolution; chances are you will fail.  The statistics are just not in your favor.  Only 20% of those who set a resolution will stick to their plan for the entire year.

It's only January 2nd, and I would like to suggest you just give up on whatever promise you made this year.  However, I'd like to suggest another resolution, and the one I set for myself.

This year I resolve to be present. 

Tieraona Low Dog, MD shared similar sentiments with her resolution (or lack there of) in Prevention saying:
"This year I will not make a yearlong promise, as I have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring. I will simply promise to live my life day by day, open to whatever joy, pain, love, sorrow, adventure, or change it brings."
If you're anything like me, you probably muttered something under your breath like: "duh, how else do you live other than day to day?"

Resolving to be present may sound like a fluff resolution, but mindfulness requires a disciplined attitude and is no excuse for remaining stagnant.

For me the most tangible illustration of mindfullness can be seen in relation to diet.  Which is appropriate considering the most common resolutions revolve around loosing weight.

Many of us are guilty of treating meal time as of lesser importance than other tasks.  

Eating as we drive from one place to another.

Mindlessly chowing down at our desks while we work.

Or shoveling in food as we watch television.  

With little regard to our meals we over eat, choose meals that lack substance, and according to studies even risk our health.

When researchers at the University of Rhode Island instructed their study participants to eat a large plate of pasta quickly, they consumed 646 calories in nine minutes. Those who were told to eat slowly consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes—67 calories less even while eating for 20 additional minutes. Eating hastily has also long been associated with indigestion and heartburn.

Eliminating distractions and taking the time to eat with awareness allows you to notice what you are eating and how much.  And that goes the other way too.  Being conscious of when you are using food as comfort or a tool to distract you from stress.  

This is just one example.  How could being mindful change how we interact in our relationships with others, our work, or our finances?  How could the practice of being present transform our lives?

Being present is not easy.  It requires the discipline to not multi-task, and forces us experience life even if it's uncomfortable.

While, the new year is often seen as a chance to start fresh,  the practice of presence teaches us the each day, each moment, and each breath is new opportunity.


When one attaches meanings to dates and deadlines, morale is lowered when goals are not met in the scope of expectations. Aspirations are ideals we grow in our conscious garden where they are free from the tumult of life. These delicate creations of ours must be loosed into the wild, given 4 dimensions and, pre-eminently, allowed to fail and struggle their way into a life of their own. Meeting a target is hardly as important as having the presence of mind to persevere when faced with failure. This is a poignant lesson of how one makes life selfsame as the highest form of art.

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