By Mark Bertin, Mindful.org
Skip the resolutions this year. Set a different tone by cultivating your intentions for the new year with this mindful practice.
While many of us take stock at the end of a year, set goals, or make new plans for the upcoming year, that sense of letting go of what we’re caught up in and the habits we’ve been living through are a part of our everyday mindfulness practice. Each time we sit for a few minutes, there’s an opportunity to let go of wherever our minds, attention, and awareness have gotten caught up in, come back, and realign ourselves with our best intentions and efforts.
It might be a sense of bringing full awareness and attention to our experience, to the people around us, to a conversation with our children. It might be a sense of letting go of reactivity and coming back to resolve with more patience and clarity. It might also be balancing the tendency most of us have to get caught up in stress and giving more attention to gratefulness, positive moments, and things we enjoy. Or it might be a sense of wanting to bring more kindness and compassion to how we treat ourselves, how we treat others, or even how we treat the people we find difficult in our lives. All of that can be cultivated, sustained, and developed through any amount of time we spend in our mindfulness practice.
A Guided Practice to Discover Your Intentions
1. Find yourself a comfortable posture. Dropping your gaze or shutting your eyes, notice the physical movement your body makes with each breath. You might notice your belly, your chest, or perhaps the air moving in and out of your nose and mouth.
2. Check-in with your effort and intention. What is it you’d like to bring to the practice today? Perhaps it’s an opportunity to settle and gather your attention or a sense of resolve and strength. Of course, you might have the intention to simply show up to this practice without adding any sense of stress or strain.
3. Bring that sense of intention and awareness to your practice today. One way to do that can be within each in-breath, developing a sense of open awareness.
4. With each out-breath, come up with a word that captures your intentions for yourself. Breathe in with awareness and maybe picture something or feel gratitude toward whatever feels appropriate to you right now. Breathe out with your intentions for this moment.
5. You might lose touch with your intentions throughout the practice and in life—you can come back again. If you lose touch with the practice and your mind gets caught up in distraction or reactivity or some sense of discomfort, that’s normal. That’s all part of the practice. Try coming back to the same practice with awareness.
6. As the practice ends, pause for a moment with intention, and choose when to move on with your day.
Whatever you’re facing in life, all we indirectly influence is how we choose to relate to that. Reactivity and anger so often lead to more reactivity and anger. You can get caught up in self-criticism and in criticism of others. You can develop a more balanced sense of awareness, preciseness, and clarity through mindfulness practice. At any moment, you can catch yourself and realign yourself with your best intentions, recognizing that you may lose touch again and then come back when you do.
So as this challenging year comes to an end, wishing you all well.
Keywords; mindfulness, meditation