2019 Resolutions or Intentions

New Year's resolutions come around annually, if at all. 

Even if we never make one, we all have intentions, however and whenever they may be voiced.

Most new years I do not make a resolution, but once in a while there is a big one.  New Year's eve 1981 while having a blue evening in a neighborhood blues bar I decided to move away from New York City to New Orleans, to end a period of musical experimentation, and to rejoin the long path to becoming a physician—and I did.  Another New Year's in the mid 1990's I set an intention to open my heart by (figuratively) peeling back the crusty covering layers.  This resolution was less outwardly dramatic than the earlier one but was in many ways harder and was much longer to accomplish--in fact, this peeling back is still a work in progress!  Other years, the resolutions have dealt with relationships: one year I vowed to criticize my wife less and to provide more encouragement to my kids.   One year my sister-in-law, inspired by something I said but do not remember exactly, was inspired to resolve to quit smoking and did it!  Perhaps there also were resolutions that never went anywhere, but I do not recall them; and I definitely cannot recall a resolution being harmful, although of course such a scenario is possible, and resolutions should be chosen carefully with consideration of all their effects. 

This year I do not yet know what the resolution will be or if there will be one. The resolutions that seem to work for me are those that build on at least some existing foundation.  Sometimes we have foundations about whose existence we may not even be aware.  So it can be useful to take stock of: to whom and to what we are connected, and on what we stand, sit and lie.   A next step then can be to visualize and project forward where we can then go.  Too much focus on the future can lead to anxiety, but some planning is needed and makes great sense.  Sometimes the plan is just about the next step....

Thich Nhat Hahn's 2014 New Year resolution: "I am determined not to waste my life. I dare to live the life that I want to live. I want that every step I make on this planet to bring joy to me and to other people, and to touch Nirvana and the Kingdom of God with every step."

Thay’s resolution talks about “steps” and so uses elements of walking meditation. Inspired by his resolution, I wonder whether it might help to have my new resolution have a mindful breathing-ready component such as “breathing in I want X, breathing out I am determined to do Y.”  That way it can be regularly reinforced with meditation.

Do you have a resolution (or intention) for this year, or a prior resolution that retains meaning?

What is the foundation for it?

Can mindfulness play a role in the genesis and execution?

On Monday, we can sit together with these questions and whatever else you bring to share on the eve of 2019.