by Andrew Rose
Welcome to 2019!
The new year can be a simultaneously exciting and daunting time, with the endless possibility that new digits on the calendar somehow seem to promise, and the responsibility of living up to those expectations. On the one hand meditation teaches us that every moment is full of possibility and that it’s always possible to regroup, find our breath, and begin again. On the other hand, these seasonal markers can often help provide the jumpstart we need to transform our minds, our habits, and our lives. Fortunately, these two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
Why Not Do Both?
If you’ve been thinking about finally making meditation a serious practice in 2019, I highly recommend a similar two-pronged approach. Firstly, just get started. You don’t need any fancy clothes or equipment or to go on a 10-day retreat. This is mental fitness that has a lower barrier to entry than almost anything else you can do for your health. And second, if you do get frustrated or discouraged, remember that you can always start again. In fact, this is basically what we do in meditation. We pay attention to what is actually happening, and when the quality of that attention wanes, we bring it back, without judgement. Eventually the mental muscle strengthens, the same way the stomach might after a lot of situps.
One Habit To Rule Them All
The beautiful thing about making meditation a habit is that it can then be applied to transform all kinds of other behaviours and aspects of our lives. If you’re like me, when the New Year comes there’s a long list of changes I want to apply, and it’s tempting to dive in and tackle all of them at once (eating habits, sleeping habits, work habits, technology habits…). This kind of multitasking approach to behaviour change can hinder the best of intentions. Better to start with one and work from there. With a solid meditation practice you might even find that other habits come or go without much effort at all. (I was pretty dumbfounded in 2018 to find my 25-year nail-biting habit suddenly vanish with the lightest of mindful intention applied, and for a long-sought after running regime to suddenly having taken root.)
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Right
All that said, meditation isn’t for everyone, and it’s best to start slowly and with the guidance and support of live professionals, if possible. It’s a deceptively simple practice, but like all forms of exercise is not without its nuances, and its risks. You can definitely get started at home or with an app, but if you want to affect some long term, sustainable change, I fully believe working with experienced professionals (and peers!) is your best bet.
If you’re in Montreal, the easiest way to get started is to come by one of our Presence Meditation locations for a drop-in class or introductory workshop. (And we’ve just discounted our one-month introductory pass for the duration of the month of January…) Or if you’re looking for something a little more intensive, Mindspace offers a number of seasonal 8 week mindfulness-based programs catered to various specific needs, including stress reduction, cognitive therapy, and more.
Whatever your situation, if you’ve got your eyes set on some kind of transformation in 2019 and haven’t really tried meditating yet, what are you waiting for?