There are many people and organizations today that preach a shift away from resolutions in the New Year and towards large ideas: one word that will take you and guide you through the year. Some variations move towards three words for the year, or a phrase or mantra instead; the details vary, but the idea remains the same. While I myself still enjoy resolutions (at any time of the year, not just in January), I found my journaling in the last year reflecting the idea of focusing for a period of time on a single virtue or idea, and decided this year to formalize it a bit. Rather than select one word for the year (as is most common), I’m tailoring the idea to my needs a bit, and choosing to meditate and focus on one word each month. This gives me four weeks to explore the meaning and role of the word in my life and to carry out healthy practices. It suits my nature to change each month, else I get bored with it and let it fall away, as would inevitably happen.
The word I’ve chosen for January is mindful. This was an easy choice for me, as one of my intentions for the year is to be more present in the moment, mindful of what is going on around me, both positive and negative, and accepting the world as it is, here, and now. Perhaps even more importantly, to be accepting myself as I am, here and now. To be mindful is to notice the moment, but to refrain from judgement; rather, to feel and experience and find peace.
Mindfulness is something I’ve practiced before, but that I find persistently difficult to maintain. It is worth working towards, however, for the rewards it brings to our frame of mind and attitude towards life. Take, for example, earlier this week: I’ve been sick since before Christmas, and the constant discomfort of it is beginning to wear on me. So I wasn’t feeling well; my dog woke me up at 4am puking on the bed; and I was anxious and stressed about resuming work the next day. I spent the whole day in a state of general misery, frustration, and resentment, punctuated by anxiety and panic. I failed to acknowledge different moments as they passed and the prospect they held, and instead focused on issues in the past and potential problems of the future. In doing so, I lost so many opportunities for happiness, and only came to my senses late in the evening halfway through my shower (never underestimate the power of a hot shower). It’s just one example of a myriad of experiences that remind me how important it is to practice and commit to a life of mindfulness.
“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh
What strategies do you use to practice mindfulness in your daily life?