Hello and welcome to Friday, January 3, 2020! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
Happy New Year my friends!
My ending to 2019 was a blessing. I was graced with five silent days to reflect on my precious life and design a plan of action for 2020. Much was revealed! Never would I have imagined that I might spend New Year’s Eve in silence at a Catholic Convent listening to a Buddhist talk about living a meaningful life through being of service.
While I’m not going to share a complete account of my time in retreat, I witnessed something on the first night that I thought was quite incredible. John Bruna, my long-time teacher, friend and retreat facilitator asked us to introduce ourselves by name, where we are from and our intention for being there. There were 36 of us attending. After we finished, about 20 – 30 minutes, John remembered every single name. As we all sat in astonishment, he humbly stated, “It helps to pay attention.” What did I do? I started comparing myself to him thinking, “I probably shouldn’t be a mindfulness instructor because I can’t do what he just did.” This thought led to my first intention for 2020: stop comparing myself to others – it’s unhelpful and destructive! I've come a long way! But this intention is not what I want to focus on today. What I want to focus on is taking action, diligently.
I’ve mentioned many times in these support letters that just because we know it’s important to be present – to be able to pay attention – does not mean that we have the capacity to do so. Trust me, I want to be present! I really do! Unfortunately, my mind has other plans for me. Though I'm getting much better, I try to focus on something or listen to someone, and the next thing I know I’m thinking about a kid who punched me in the nose when I was in 7th grade or some other random thought. I don’t want this to happen, it just does. What I didn’t realize while John was confidently recalling the names of 36 people, 30 of whom he’d never met, was that roughly 20 years ago he didn’t have the ability to do this. Through practicing meditation and applying mindfulness skills, he trained his mind to pay attention. Yes, he studied books and learned about paying attention, but he also took action.
I can’t even begin to recall how many New Year’s resolutions I’ve committed to only to see them fall to the wayside, typically as early as February, if not sooner. Maybe this is your experience? That fact is, each of us could easily make a list of 5 things that would improve our life. Yet, when we try to apply them, we very soon find ourselves right back where we were. Confused. Ashamed. Remorseful.
I had a cousin, Patti, describe our educational system to me which explains much of our problem. She was involved with the school system her whole life. She said that if we wanted to learn how to ride a bike, we would first be taught about the history of a bike – who invented it and so on so forth. We would then study the different types of bikes, sizes and shapes and uses. They would teach us about how bikes are made and over time we would start to understand the mechanics and physics and how motion helps us to maintain balance. We’d surely watch others riding bikes. Essentially, by the time we graduate school, we know all about bikes but have no idea how to ride one.
We all want to be free of stress, tension and turmoil. Wanting to be free and learning about methods to reduce these unpleasant states doesn’t help us to be free. It appears that we are too busy creating stress, tension and turmoil in our life to spend 30 minutes a day practicing tools and skills that will virtually eliminate stress, tension and turmoil. It takes action.
Maybe you have heard that neurons that fire together wire together. This essentially means that as we practice something, it becomes wired into our brain and becomes a habit. As you know, we have many habits and they are hard to break. The problem is: neurons that don’t sync won’t link. An effective way to sync neurons is with repeated action.
Dedicating time to practice mindfulness tools and skills, such as meditation, will help sync up our neurons so they can fire and wire together. We can study all about the benefits of meditation, but until we actually practice, we won’t see those benefits. Likewise, we can want to live with more peace and calmness, yet until we do something different, these qualities will elude us. We can desire to live in alignment with our values all we want, yet unhealthy habits and our unruly mind may have different plans for us.
Make 2020 a year where you do more than just want to change. Take action – Diligently. Here is a link to the Mindful Life Program where they offer Five tools for living mindfully!
If you want to make a commitment to your well-being and create new habits
, I have multiple Mindfulness-based opportunities starting in the new year. If you message me today, I will tell you how you can save $100 on the Mindfulness Foundations Course or the Year-long Personal Development Course. See attached flyers or go to my website: www.turningleaffoundation.com
I love you and there isn’t anything you can do about it! Meow!
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