Winter Solstice time is here in the northern hemisphere! The longest nights are already growing shorter, bringing heartwarming certainty that the sun is shining a little longer each day. The solstice and the winter holidays offer a time of goodwill, joy, group celebrations and quiet contemplation. But the winds of change blow uncertainty over this time, with new covid variants, climate change and a fluctuating economy. This level of uncertainty can color everything. If you’re like me, sometimes you find yourself engaging in unhealthy habits like obsessively checking news, social media, email, spending too much time on devices. Or you may feel compelled to keep smoking, overeating, overextending, ruminating about it all. While understandable, these behaviors can only provide momentary relief.
The good news I’ve discovered and want to share with you is that mindfulness practices can make unhealthy habits less appealing because ultimately they feel… well, unhealthy! Meanwhile practice shifts motivation to make healthier choices.
Compassionate self-reflection can change your relationship with adverse habits; simply acknowledging them already means you are no longer lost in them. Mindful awareness decreases their fuel, loosens their grip without force or willpower. You can ask yourself in a kind voice, “is this action good for my welfare, for the welfare of other living things and the environment?” With repeated inquiry, you tune in to the ungratifying downside of harmful behaviors – kindness is key here. With support, they gradually wane, like fading colored dye from a cloth: wash, rinse, repeat!
And you can learn how to foster new wholesome habits – including mindful check ins to tap into an inner wellspring of care. You will be amazed to discover the difference short practices can make in your day! As E. M. Forster said, “Only connect.” You can connect with fulfilling inner rewards that are always available and become a reliable refuge to yourself and others.
I warmly invite you to befriend yourself in the new year to explore loosening the knots of anxiety and related habits with Elliott Law and me at the upcoming 6-week program Unwinding Anxiety January 20th. Or, consider changing your relationship with unwanted eating habits with more enjoyable Mindful Eating starting January 19th. These mindfulness-based programs foster compassionate community with others who are motivated to change their habits – while integrating ancient wisdom and modern science. May you be open to healthy change in the new year!
Happy New Year!