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New Year's Resolutions
Every year at the dojo, the tradition has been to come up with a new “workout challenge.” In 2021 it was the “push up, wall sit, sit up challenge” where we added time each month until we were up to 1 ½ minutes each. In 2022, the dojo challenge is Kicks, kicks, and more kicks.
I really enjoy the dojo challenges, but I’m terrible at keeping my own New Year’s resolutions. So, I thought that if I follow the same format as we do at the dojo of adding a little bit of time or intensity to my New Year’s resolution each month, AND publicly state my goal, I might be able to keep at it.
My personal New Year’s challenge? Make meditation a habit.
I’ve practiced meditation off and on for many, many years. I was first introduced to it when I was maybe 13? 14? I don’t remember exactly when. Growing up, my siblings and I would walk down to the local library where we were supposed to do homework while waiting for my dad to pick us up. And, as you know, a library is like a candyshop of new, radical ideas and subversive knowledge. A perfect storm for a quietly rebellious teenager with a desire to find one's path through life.
For whatever reason, I gravitated to the “Religion/Philosophy” section (after reading every Mad magazine and Science Fiction digest ever published) and there I came across the most formative book I have ever read, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. In it, through a series of essays, he expounds on the nitty gritty of “zazen” or zen meditation. I read his book in secret at every opportunity while at the library. Looking back it’s laughable but back then I didn't have the courage to bring a book like that home and face questioning by my very devout parents. Feeling very subversive, I began my practice in secret and fell in love with the stillness of zazen.
Nowadays we understand that meditation is NOT a religious practice and in fact is practiced across many spiritual traditions. It also has (bonus!) numerous health benefits — although, honestly, there is nothing like a few moments of experiencing one’s own clear, empty mind. According to brainfacts.org:
“Various studies demonstrate the practice [of meditation] can help relieve stress — as well as manage anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve memory and attention, to boot. Such striking results have many doctors, across specialties, prescribing meditation just as they would an anti-depressant or blood pressure medication.”
In 2022 my personal challenge is to get back to a regular meditation habit - 3x a week for 30 minutes. I’m going to start at 15 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and adding 5 minutes every month until I reach 30 minutes in April. I may keep adding until I get to an hour (which I used to do) but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to achieve an hour.
Would you be interested in joining me on my journey? Click here to respond with your level of interest!