By Leo Babauta
January is here, and it’s a great time to think about how we want to spend our year. I suggest starting with a Month of Mindfulness.
What is it? It’s setting aside January to practice mindfulness:
- I’m challenging you to meditate every day in January.
- I’m recommending that everyone take the Daily Mindfulness Practice course (even if you’ve taken it before).
- I suggest exploring ways to expand mindfulness practice beyond sitting meditation (see below for more).
That might feel like a major challenge, but actually it’s a great opportunity to explore how much you can take on in your life without overdoing it, and finding your limits. It’s a great way to explore feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. And it’s a wonderful opportunity to practice being present as you set the foundation for a year of beautiful change.
The truth is that change will come in 2017 whether we like it or not. We can either change in ways we don’t like and agonize about changes … or we can mindfully bring the changes we’d like and also learn how to deal with unexpected changes with an open heart. The Month of Mindfulness helps us with all of that.
How does it help us with these things? Here’s what I’ve found:
- The daily meditation challenge teaches us how to practice something daily. This is so crucial to changes in diet, exercise, procrastination, learning, writing, decluttering, loving relationships and more. We have to practice regularly to get better at anything.
- The meditation shows us how our minds resist things (as you might be resisting the challenge right now) and how to deal with this resistance with patience, presence and compassion.
- The meditation helps us to see how we sabotage ourselves, tell ourselves unhelpful stories, justify our procrastination, and speak harshly to ourselves. By seeing these unhelpful mental activities, we can learn to work with them and not attach to them, not let ourselves follow them.
- Mindfulness helps us develop gratitude in our lives, appreciation for what we have and what’s right in front of us, and become more content.
- Mindfulness will help us with all other habits: to see when we want to run and not follow that, to deal compassionately with failures, to just start again when we mess up, to be happy and grateful when we are doing the habit. In this way, it is the fundamental habit.
And those are just some of the benefits. The others are either a long list of scientific benefits that have been coming out in the last decade, or so subtle that I can’t describe them, you have to experience them and appreciate them yourself.
So give this a shot. Everything in Sea Change is optional, but I can’t urge you strongly enough to do this Month of Mindfulness.
How to Get Started
So how do you get started with the Month of Mindfulness?
- Commit to meditating every day in January. Tell everyone you are comfortable telling, so you have some kind of commitment.
- Start meditating today: just sit for 2 minutes and put your attention on your breath. You don’t need to be anywhere special, and it’s OK if it’s not first thing in the morning. Just start.
- Watch the intro video in the Daily Mindfulness Practice course and then take the first lesson. It will explain the basics of meditation.
- Keep watching the videos when you can (twice a week is recommended), keep meditating daily.
I’ll put out more info as the month goes on, expanding on the video course and talking more about the challenge. But start today!