5 Ways to Nurture New Habits: Out With The Old, In With The New
Are you cynical about New Year resolutions but keen to make some positive changes in your life next year? Mindfulness helps to reduce the effort that people experience in making changes, according to Jean Kristeller, psychology professor at Indiana State University. The practice of yoga and meditation helps us to develop the skill of mindfulness. Read on for some practical tips on how to start your New Year with a difference:
Accept where you’re at
Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be present from moment to moment, without judgement. Inherent in this is an acceptance of ourselves, just as we are, a letting go of past regrets and an openness to what might be possible as each moment unfolds. We learn to be kinder to ourselves and we become more aware of the root causes of our unhelpful patterns. From this place of awareness, we can live more consciously, turning away from habits which do not support us and making wiser choices.
Yoga’s answer to the usual list of New Year’s resolutions. Setting an intention creates a broader framework for our efforts. Rather than focusing on what you are doing wrong (‘I will quit smoking’), an intention encourages us to look within and discover what truly makes us joyful and fulfilled in our life. For example, you might consider the intention ‘May I be happy and open to what life brings me’. Setting an intention reminds us that we can enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.
Commit to a regular meditation or yoga practice
Each time we practice, we reinforce the neural pathways that make behaviour a habit. Making meditation a habit increases the odds of making other good habits stick. Researchers have found that 11 hours of meditation over 4 weeks( that’s about 20 minutes a day) created structural changes in the region of the brain involved in improving focus and self-control.
How often do you text, read or watch TV at mealtimes? If we multi-task while we eat, we can miss out on one of the most pleasurable activities of the day. You can develop the skill of mindfulness by bringing deliberate attention to the daily ritual of preparing and eating meals. Eating mindfully invites us to savour the flavours and textures, slowing down to enjoy and appreciate food. Studies suggest that mindful eating leads to healthier food choices, better digestion and weight loss.
Scientists have found that people who practice gratitude feel happier, have lower blood pressure and stronger immunity. The practice of mindfulness increases our appreciation of all the good in our lives. To get into the habit of gratitude, find a gratitude buddy, perhaps a family member, friend or co-worker. Share the things you are grateful for every day, in person or by text.
Ease yourself into the New Year with our extensive class schedule. This gentle yet deep practice will help you to tune into mind, body and heart. Letting go of what has passed, we open ourselves to the present, where desire makes way for peace and contentment.