I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions a long time ago for a few reasons. For one, resolutions tend to be too lofty. I want to get a better job this year. I want to lose weight. I want to find my partner. I want to eat healthier. Blah blah blah. Enough of that. Second, the definition of resolution essentially means to resolve a problem … And as a yoga instructor and lover of all things self-help/self-improvement, the last thing you want to do when trying to inspire change is refer to yourself as “a problem”.
Instead, I’m much more of a proponent of the whole — small changes lead to long, lasting results thing — therefore, I shifted away from vague resolutions and instead focus on very targeted, monthly “mini goals”.
For example, a few of my January goals include: Get to a Bikram yoga class at least 1–2 times per week, eat spinach at least 3 times a week, finish reading an entire book (because I’m notorious for reading 20 pages and then shelfing it), book my next vacation, and finally — engage in a daily meditation.
For the most part, I’ve been doing pretty well … Except for that meditation part, in which I failed pretty quickly. I made it about 11 days straight and then I just didn’t want to do it anymore … So I stopped. But as I dug more into the intention (the “why”) behind this goal, I realized it was less about proving to myself that I could close my eyes and sit still for 10 minutes a day and more about engaging in the simple act of being present.
Everyone talks incessantly about being present … But why?
The answer: Because it’s so important.
I read recently that we each have roughly 6,000 thoughts per day. And unsurprisingly, most of those thoughts are either completely neutral or negative. But what was most interesting to me is that about 90% of the thoughts we have everyday are actually the same exact thoughts we had the day prior … Which means we’re really just re-living the past over and over again … And that’s really fucking sad.
Presence helps us find joy. It helps us feel at peace. It helps us embrace life. And it trains us to stop dwelling in what was or panicking about what will be. And that’s why it’s so important. It grounds us in reality.
As humans, our minds are designed to wander. To run back and forth … Side to side … To ping pong ball around every corner of our brain until we can’t take it anymore. And presence, the practice of slowing down and calming our thoughts, allows us to relax a little more … To find ease … To appreciate.
It’s not about the daily meditation when it comes to being present. It’s not about closing your eyes and forcing yourself to sit still and breathe. It’s about taking time to notice. It’s being in a yoga class and getting completely entranced in the flow. It’s drinking a cup of coffee and truly savoring the taste. It’s taking a walk outside and feeling the sun’s warmth on your skin. It’s reading a book and losing all track of time. It’s having a meaningful conversation with a friend and feeling warm and fuzzy inside because you just feel so connected and so understood. It’s about taking your dog out early in the morning and hearing the silence because the rest of the world is still peacefully sleeping.
When we experience presence, we experience life. And that’s why it’s so important.