Mindfulness and Planning Ahead

Part of our journey on this Earth seems to be learning who we are and how we fit into the bigger systems around us: family, friends, community, society, and humanity. And it seems that we often seek the answers to such questions from others in the systems as to how we are doing. Ideally, however, we can learn to seek our own counsel on these questions first.

Contemplation and mindful presence with self allows an individual to “feel” their way to the right thing. Being mindfully present with ones self allows the quietude to feel who we are, what our values are, and whether the goals we have worked toward in previous years were our own or someone else’s. Often, the resolutions that fizzle are ones that others have prompted – either verbally or through what we think we “should” do based on non-verbal communication, societal expectations, or history.

Pressure (from ourselves or others) to be or do things that don’t align with our core values, and expectations placed on others to be or do things that don’t align with their core values, are the leading causes of anxiety, depression, frustration, resentment, and compulsive behaviors such as over-eating, alcohol and drug abuse, and compulsive gambling or spending. Getting quiet in meditation allows us to get to know who we are and what we need and/or want in our lives. Ideas and direction that come while we are mindful of personal values will be more attractive, as they will align with our core selves.

New research suggests that the best way to pursue change is to focus on the process, to consider the change with curiosity, and to identify what is working and what isn’t (and make changes accordingly) along the way. If we continually examine our practice as we move toward a goal, we are able to be mindfully present. The goal may actually shift over time, as we are able to identify potentially different benefits and directions through ongoing attention.

Rather than focusing on success or failure (which can actually negatively affect motivation), we can get curious about small steps and feelings at each level of the process. Does this feel right? Is this how I thought I would feel? If I make a change here, would it bring me to more peace or enjoyment – even if it moves me toward a slightly different goal?

So, the power comes not in resolving to lose 15 pounds, but rather committing to a process of learning about personal nutritional needs and ways to change eating habits toward meeting those needs. And then finding a source of movement that brings enjoyment and fitness. Experimentation, getting curious, using trial and error, and making changes as we go – these are the recommended steps for successful change.

Seeking more peace in our lives, we might focus on the process of finding it and moving ahead, identifying through practice what brings more peace and what doesn’t. If we can fill our hearts and minds and environments with supportive language and energy, it may move us in the direction of more peace.

Wishing you curiosity and wonder in 2016.

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