Mindful Months: An Introduction

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Mindful Months is an exercise in mindfulness through a series of month-long challenges.

Who I am lends an important lens to this project. I am an incredibly lucky 25 year old living in NYC. Why lucky? Lucky because I have a Masters’ degree and no debt, I live in an apartment with one of my best friends, I have a good job, my immediate family is healthy and living within the five boroughs, I’ve got a plethora of plant and animal life in my room, I am surrounded by incredible people, on and on and on.

Despite all of this good fortune, I struggle to answer the question: who are you? I struggle with the question because, as my actions reflect, some parts of who I am contradict others. I believe I will be able to find a better balance through mindfulness. Now, mindfulness is a very broad term. What I mean by mindfulness is understanding and acting intentionally based on my core feelings, desires, intentions and goals. This concept is simple in theory, but difficult in practice. I struggle with balancing my contradictory desires because I am an indulgent, impulsive, extremely social human being. To be clear, my desire is not to rid myself of these qualities. They are, after all, a part of who I am. While I love being around people, drinking alcohol, going to parties, going out to dinner, dancing all night, and being laissez faire, I also love being physically fit, getting a lot of sleep, spending time alone or with my pets, being clean and organized, eating healthy meals, doing yoga and meditating. How can I both go out drinking late, and work out effectively the next morning? I usually end up giving up the workout. How can I be as social as I want to be, but also have enough time to myself for reflection? I usually give up reflecting. I hope to find the right balance of these qualities so that I can truly flourish.

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For a few years now, I have used New Year’s resolutions as motivation to un-clutter my life and be more true to myself. This past year was the most successful because I took a different approach. Instead of doing a few large, year-long challenges, I did a year of month-long challenges. This approach was great because I felt I could do pretty much anything for a month. I was able to challenge myself to things that I would never want to do for an entire year. Some were more successful than others, but each one (successful or not) taught me about myself. My only regret is not keeping better track of what I did and what I learned. This year, I plan to journal the experience with this blog. I hope this will be a great piece to look back on, but I also hope to motivate others to either join me, or find their own path to mindfulness. Based on my experiences last year, I have more of a focus this time around. In 2016, I will add something, and take something away each month.

January Resolution:

My years usually end in a flurry of food, drinking, late nights and indulgences. Therefore, in January, I will take away alcohol and add working out at least 4 times a week. I did these same two challenges last January, and found it to be a fantastic way to start off a new year. This challenge is particularly difficult because there is always occasion to drink. I seriously considered changing the sobriety piece of this challenge to a different month because I have a few events (including a wedding) where I would love to drink. That is exactly why it’s important to challenge myself in this way. I sometimes worry that not drinking will make me a wet blanket, or boring, or unfun; all things I know are untrue. I have become so accustomed to drinking in social situations that I’m afraid to go without it. That is not healthy, and not true to who I am. After tonight, bye bye booze. Well, for a month at least.

Below are my rough drafts of other things I may resolve to take away or add in the other 11 months of the year and my general yearlong goals. Some are more thought out/challenging than others. My lists are:

Take away:

- TV - Processed foods - Sweets - Complaining - Ordering out - Food waste

Add:

- Saving a certain amount of money each week - Donating something (clothes, kitchen equip, money) once a week - Meditating once a day - Vitamins/probiotics once a day - Flossing every day - Regular yoga (at least once per week?) - Oil pulling every day - Journaling every day - Call someone you’ve been meaning to be in touch with once a week - Try something new every week - 7 hours of sleep every night - Spend more quality time with my pets - Eat an apple a day - Read at least 10 minutes (non-work) each day - Say an affirmation in the mirror every day

Year-long:

- Blog at least once a month - Take better control of my finances - Be more consistent in my good habits

So far, four of my family members will be joining me for sober January. I am grateful for their support! Being able to talk about challenges and goals with others makes the experience infinitely more enjoyable. I hope even more folks will join me! I would also love to hear some other ideas of things to add and take away this year, or how to make this blog better/more interesting.

Stay posted for updates about how these challenges are going, and what I will be doing next month.

IMG_2230 Happy New Year!

Thank you, I love you.

Eileen