Jan 7- Space for New Habits

Meditation: Headspace, Basics #7
Length: 11 minutes
Where: Home Office/Guest Room, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Peaceful

One week! This may be the first time in my life I’ve meditated every single day for a week.

This is really saying something, believe me. I have tried so many meditation challenges and programs over the years. I always sign up for those free 21 day Oprah and Deepak meditations… and make it about three days in before I start missing them. I don’t think I’ve ever finished one! My planner has space for a new 30 day challenge every single month, and over the years I’ve used it, I’ve written down “Meditate Every Day” in that little box at least ten times.

I’ve never, ever completed one.

So what’s different now?

Recently I read a cool book called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. It talked a lot about “the habit loop,” which is the term for the cues, routines, and rewards that trigger our habits. I ended 2020 with that book, and it really inspired me to start looking at why I do the things I do and, more importantly for me, why I can’t seem to do some of the things I really want to do!

Highly recommend- really enjoyed this book! Esp the parts about Tony Dungy.

I was totally ready to start implementing some of his strategies, but the truth is, I feel life handed me a bit of a cheat.

Talking with my husband last night, I realized how this unique time has given me a cleaner than clean slate in my life for real. Not the fake “clean slate” we decide begins on January 1st each year. That “starting over” feeling of the New Year is exciting, but real life creeps in quickly, and most of us abandon all our good intentions within days. Why wouldn’t we? Nothing has really changed in our world just because we write a different number for the year on our checks. (Does anyone still use checks?) We are still us, with our same routines, triggers, rewards, and habit loops.

This year, however, most of the “clutter” in my life has been stripped away. My work is nearly silent, we aren’t being social (in person), planning travel, buying tickets to events. I had such a stressful year, I didn’t take on a lot of random things just to keep my mind busy, which I normally would do. It is just….quiet.

How lucky to be in a position where, instead of trying to cram new habits into my busy and hectic life, I get some time to build those habits, then slowly add in the rest of my life around those new habits??

In all likelihood, we still have a few solid months before life truly starts to move again. It strikes me that this is time to stay on track and let human nature take its course. Plenty of time to get used to doing these things, like meditating, that are so good for me, so I can continue to do them without thinking. Plenty of time to build positive associations with these new tasks, instead of letting them stress me out because “I don’t have time!” Plenty of time to experiment with the best ways of doing it all, so it stays part of the fabric of my day when things get hectic again.

In this spirit, besides meditating, doing yoga, and writing daily, I’m starting to add in small new things. I’ve started drinking hot lemon water in the mornings again (day two today!) Taking vitamins more regularly. Studying a language daily.

Next step? Instilling good, regular habits to help my career, so that goes more smoothly, less randomly. Adding more intention and structure to this part of my world.

In the book, the author discusses how changing just one habit inspires change in all areas of your life, and I’m really starting to see that principle working! It’s definitely inspiring, and I can say without a doubt I’m feeling 100% motivated to continue! This is a big project- it’s one thing to be excited about a week straight, but another thing to make it another 51 weeks (and beyond). Still, I believe I can really do it. I don’t think I would have believed that before this year.

This is a year to remind myself I can do hard things. Something as small as eleven minutes of sitting and breathing a day is showing me I’m capable of much more than I was giving myself credit for. I can’t wait to see what these twelve months will bring!