January 2

Dear friends


This week Annie will facilitate.  We will talk about how mindfulness can help is set intentions for the new year. 


As we know, our thoughts and feelings usually lead to actions, so being mindful and having clarity about what our deepest intentions are will help us act and speak in the ways we most deeply want to. 


I heard Thich Nhật Hanh say that we meditate in order to heal and transform. How can our thinking inspire more healing and transformation in 2017?


We can start to think about our intentions in the following categories using the technique that social psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal of The Willpower Instinct suggests.


McGoinigal says that to get to our deepest intentions, we ask ourselves: How would I like to feel about:

  • My body- health, vitality
  • My environment (possessions, home, etc)- what Thich Nhật Hanh calls our "cows"
  • My relationships- partners, family, friends, sangha
  • My relationship with myself - how well do I understand myself? 

Once we have a sense of our deepest intentions, we can find ways to support staying awake to what we really want. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project says that we have a tendency to respond to expectations (or New Years resolutions) in one of four ways:

  1. Upholders -- these are the people who have no trouble keeping resolutions and always do what they are "supposed" to so. They may be exhausted but they are relentless. 
  2. Questioners -- they will do something only if it makes rational sense, they've done their research on the resolution and it's benefits 
  3. Rebels -- these people resist all expectations and resolutions because they don't like to be told what to do. 
  4. Obligers-- they respond to outside pressure and will do something because others want them to, ignoring their own feelings about it 

In which category do you normally find yourself?  Knowing how we usually operate will help us know what supports to put in place to make it more likely for us to make progress on our intentions. 


Upholders can learn to question their deeper motives more, questioners can practice acceptance, rebels can try to act out of love, and obligers can build in external accountability to support their transformation. 


Kelly McGonigal says that willpower is "the ability to do what you want to do when part of you really doesn't want to do it." Another way I've heard this said is, "Discipline is remembering what you want." To me this is also the definition of mindfulness, and the antithesis of addiction, where we do things we know will cause us (and others ) to suffer because some part of us is craving a transient moment of sensual pleasure. What McGonigal calls willpower is really what I would call staying in presence, in that state which knows what we really want for ourselves and for the world.


So what do you really want to feel? For me, I want to feel a sense of belonging and ease. And knowing I have questioning and rebel tendencies I try to remind myself of the benefits the world will experience if I keep practicing, and also keep tapping into the love that I have for myself and others, underneath all that rebellious energy. 


This Monday, we will enjoy a guided meditation on finding our deepest intentions, and after the meditation period,  we will have a chance to discuss and share how we would like to heal and transform in 2017 and what practices will best support us. I hope to see you there!