The year of mindful living

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yoga-167062_1280So. I have decided to something really really good for myself. I have signed up for yoga teacher training – the basic 200 hours certification. I am so excited! We start on Friday, and it’ll be three and a half months of yoga training every weekend, plus my own practice. I’m expecting I’ll come out of it healthier and much more self-aware.

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions. Every time I’d set goals with the intention of developing good habits. Some I managed to maintain, while other goals just weren’t realistic. I tend to set really high goals that are hard to achieve and even harder to keep up with, so the last couple of years I didn’t even bother with making resolutions. It’s also quite silly to say that you’ll start a habit only on that one specific day. It’s like my uncle who has decided to quit smoking but went out to buy his last pack of cigarettes. Not that I don’t understand, but ultimately you’re better of just starting when you actually make the decision that you want to change something. A new beginning can happen any time, January 1st or February 12th.

I think the harder part is to actually establish a habit. I’ve heard people say that it takes about three weeks of doing something consistently to develop a habit. I know that for the first couple of weeks that I went to work out at 5:30am (!), it was very hard to drag myself out of bed that early. But once my body (and my mind) got used to being up early, it was normal to go work out, and by 7:30am I’d be done with my morning routine and ready to tackle the world. It’s pretty amazing what all you can get done in the morning when you get up so early. (I do have to say that the people who went to personal training sessions at 4am – well, I don’t know about that. It was a 24-hour gym, and one of the personal trainers actually worked from midnight to 9am. He said that he was pretty much booked most of the time).

So, this year, I didn’t set any goals for the New Year, nor am I planning to fast or give up chocolate or something like that for Lent etc. I’m not planning to do 100 pushups a day like my cousin who then sent us a multiple page treatise about how and why to do them. They’re all good goals, but I really want to do something else. I want to go through life more aware of myself and others around me: I want to be more mindful.

In some ways, mindfulness has become a hip word. You’ll find it bandied around in all kinds of articles, comments and blog posts. Search on Pinterest for mindful or mindfulness and you’ll find lots of pins and boards on the topic. Ultimately it’s something that any and all of us can apply to ourselves. For me, it means that I want to concentrate more on being in the moment, of enjoying lives little pleasures – and face the challenges as they happen. It’s so easy to waste a lot of time on anticipating and worrying what lies ahead that it’s easy to miss what’s going around you.

It’s funny, if I know ahead of time that a stressful decision or event is coming up I can worry and fret and completely psych myself out. I think through all the possibilities and it’s just so easy to focus on all the negative consequences, which can then almost paralyze the decision-making process. I tend to do better when decisions have to be made on a short notice – I’m more focused on what needs to be done right now, and I just do it. No chance to overthink things.

half-empty half-full glass

A good reminder for occasional pessimists like myself… (via iflscience.com)

So, what am I planning to do? Well, the yoga teacher training is going to be huge benefit. It’ll really help me to be in the moment and listen to my body. I’ll end up being more aware of what I can and can’t do and how to push my boundaries without overextending myself. I’ve also started up singing which is another thing I love. In that moment, you’re concentrating on what you’re doing and all those cares and worries fall away. You’re in harmony with all those around you. There are all kinds of studies on how singing is good for you and how singers’ heartbeats align. I’ll try to dig up that article and write a blog post on it.

And apart from that, I want to make sure to really spend some quality time with friends and family that are near and dear to me. It’s been a rough year (more on that another time), and it’s really driven home how important it is to appreciate the people you love and to tell them that you care. You never know how life turns out, and you don’t want life to be full of regrets and what-ifs. It’s so common nowadays to meet up with friends and then everyone is checking their phones or taking time away. Family evenings where everyone is glued to their computer and/or the TV – well, let’s just say that this is not real quality time.

So I’ll end my comments on lifestyle and digital distractions with this simple summary: I want to be good to myself and others. I think that’s a really good goal, and it’s something that I can always – always – work on. It’s not one that I can just accomplish. By its very nature it’s aspirational and will remain aspirational and so I don’t have to be frustrated with myself that I didn’t make it. Let’s see how it goes.

Om

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