Starting and Keeping Good Habits
Welcome to the New Year! On this first day of this New Year, our thoughts expand outward. No longer simply concerned with Thanksgiving, then Christmas, as the winter energy peaks then gathers a different seed for the spring, we look deeper, farther at the year to come.
This is a natural process highlighted by the “tai ji symbol” you may recognize from pop feng shui ornaments. The black is yin- which refers to winter, night, quiet, inward, and female. The white is yang- symbolizing summer, daytime, growth, forward, external, and male. These are opposing forces, though there are seeds of each within the other (represented by the “fish eye” in the picture), as they are only meaningful when combined. Since we have passed the apex of winter, resolutions made at this time serve to catalyze the growth of the yang/white fish eye into the yang/white fish itself, a process that will continue until the summer apex on June 21 (by our calendar).
Resolutions are a way that our society honors the passage of time and looks ahead at what is to come. The timing is perfect, for the yang seeds planted now have the growth of spring and manifestation of summer to support their growth into meaningful, lasting changes. Like gardening, these seeds of resolution require nutrition and attendance.
The difficulty with resolutions is that they don’t always stick. It’s REAL HARD to change what is comfortable, automatic and serves us to some extent. But, we also know, deep down, to grow, change is necessary. And isn’t growth toward the divine the whole point of this earthly play we engage in?
I started with this way of introduction as a motivator and a reminder of the importance of New Year’s resolutions. So, if we are thinking of moving forward with such a contract,, there are a few things we can do to make it more successful.
We will use the S.M.A.R.T. goal format as a template. This is the most common way to bring a dream into reality. And right now, our resolution is a dream out there in the stratosphere. The S.M.A.R.T goal format is to bring the dream to reality, or as Ching puts it, join heaven to earth.
Here is the template:
S Specific Significant, Stretching, Simple
M Meaningful Motivational, Manageable, Measurable
A Attainable Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Adjustable, Ambitious, Aligned, Aspirational, Acceptable, Action-focused
R Relevant Result-Based, Results-oriented, Resourced, Resonant, Realistic
T Timely Time-oriented, Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Time-bound, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time-limited, Trackable, Tangible
I will use my own favorite New Year’s Resolution as an example. It is not a bad idea to go through this process with your resolution, writing it all down to clarify discrepancies and firm up the contract in reality.
My resolution: To practice 100 days of gong, i.e. 100 straight days of qi gong (Chinese meditation) exercises. This is a system taught to me by Master Mingtong Gu. Practice should be done in the am, preferably upon waking. If a day is missed, two sessions the following day will make up for it. If two days are missed, one must start over.
Specific: I know exactly what is expected of me. I even know what to do if I screw it up.
Meaningful: This serves to clear my field. In the body, it promotes circulation and energy. In the mind, it clears white noise so I can hear my higher self (and God). In my spirit, it brings me closer to God, my ultimate goal.
Attainable: Though difficult towards the end, this is doable, especially since there is a buffer for failure.
Relevant: See meaningful. Also, acupuncture is an energy medicine. As a practitioner, it is vitally important to keep the energy body clear to build and protect intuition.
Timely: 100 days is 100 days, no if, ands, or buts about it.
Sound good to you? Then go for it! Here are some additional pieces of advice. I wish you all the success with your resolutions this and every year!
Additional advice on New Year’s Resolutions
- Take small steps. Don’t try to do everything at once. (So, instead of “I’m going to exercise every day,” start with “I’m going to exercise twice a week.”)
- Only try to change one habit at a time. (Instead of “I’m going to quit eating junk food, start exercising, and go to sleep at 10 p.m. instead of 2 a.m.,” start with “I’m going to quit eating junk food.”)
- Repeat the behavior you’re aiming for as often as you can. The more a behavior is repeated, the more likely it is that it will become “instinctive.”
- It is easier to make a habit than to break a habit. Create ALTERNATIVE HABITS.