As the clock ticked away the seconds on December 31, edging closer to midnight and bringing us closer to 12:00:01AM on January 1, how many of us became a little more anxious? Felt our stomachs sink just a tad and our jaws clench a bit? When clocks chimed, fireworks lit up the sky and the ball in New York’s Times Square dropped, did we share a collective gasp?
Aiyah – another year has passed. Another year has begun.
How many people made resolutions? To exercise more. To lose weight. To read more and binge watch Netflix less. To spend more time with family. To manage stress better. Whatever the specific resolution, however, most are broken within the first quarter, the first month or even the first week. It’s hard to maintain a new behavior – even when we’re convinced it’s for our own good.
A very common adage is that it takes three weeks to change a habit. More recent research, however, shows that a more realistic time frame is that change may take closer to two months. If you can maintain the new habit for a least 60 days, you’ll have a better chance of keeping it up without exerting a lot of conscious self-control. Hey, that’s what a habit is.
If you want to maximize your chances of keeping your resolution, here’s a practical tip: start meditating.
Meditation can support your journey of gaining a new habit as you rid yourself of an old one by making you more aware of what you’re doing (and not doing).
For those of us who have chosen the Zen path meditation also offers much more. Zazen, or sitting meditation, helps to quiet the mind and the body so that you can more likely achieve the state of samadhi, or total relaxed concentration. And, through samadhi, you can see the world as it truly is; you can see Reality. (That’s Reality with a capital “R”.)
Seeing reality differently isn’t something that most people can just will to happen. For most of us, this requires the equivalent of a whack on the side of the head – not a physical hit but a psycho-spiritual one.
We can teach students how to meditate, but it’s up to the individual students to do zazen on a regular basis and thus develop their own meditation habit. Two months. Meditate regularly for 60 days to establish that behavior as a habit.
It’s not easy, but if the outcome might be a chance to see Reality -- to truly understand yourself and the world in which you’re living – it’s worth it.