Tag Archives: new years resolution

The One Ingredient to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Work

 Happy 2011! 

 Do you have a sense of excitement about the year ahead – a clean slate, new possibilities and positive change? Do you feel inspired thinking of how you’ll take action to make a better life for yourself. 
If you’re like most people, you’re making your New Year’s resolutions and you’re gung-ho to begin following them with gusto.
My guess is that your resolutions involve at least a couple of these issues…relationships, health, career, and money. So how do you plan to improve all of these areas? Will you set the intention to spend an hour or two a week (or day) on each of these areas of your life to improve them? That sounds like a good plan—but will it work? Has it worked in the past? (If it were that simple, your resolutions from the past wouldn’t have made it to this year’s list again!)
There is a better way. Rather than try to create an elaborate strategy to construct a better life, wouldn’t it be easier to work on one underlying thing that could affect all of your resolutions? Sounds easier to me. 
So what is that one thing?
That one thing that can change everything is LOVE—unconditional love, or what I call “love for no reason.” It’s the subject of my new book, Love for No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love. When you experience this inner state of love you automatically become a more powerful, peaceful and open-hearted person, which affects every area of your life.
While this may sound a little airy-fairy, there’s actually scientific evidence showing that if you experience more unconditional love, you’ll enjoy these fringe benefits:
  1. You’ll have more fulfilling relationships
  2. You’ll be healthier
  3. You’ll recover more quickly from stress
  4. You’ll be more creative and effective
  5. You’ll be a better parent, friend and colleague
When you love for no reason you bring love to your outer experiences, rather than try to extract love from them. 
In Love for No Reason, I show you how to access that inner state of love no matter what’s going on in your life. Here’s a quick way to get started by feeling unconditional love for yourself first and foremost.
The next time you are feeling judgmental toward yourself, try using the ABC of self-love:
A = Awareness. Become aware of any negative feelings you’re having toward yourself.
B = Be with the feeling. Allow the experience to be there without trying to change it.
C = Compassion. Bring the same kindness and compassion to yourself for having this feeling as you would bring to a dear friend.

Take a look at your list of resolutions. Would having an inner state of love help you stick to them? If you had self-compassion would you be less likely to give up on your resolutions? 

Try the ABC process right now. In what areas are you feeling judgmental towards yourself?    Is it your weight? Are you a procrastinator? Does your desk look as if a hurricane hit it? Direct your compassionate heart toward the person experiencing the challenges: you! And watch what unfolds.
So in 2011 power your New Year’s resolutions with love. Expanding your capacity to love yourself, others, and the world is the one element that WILL make the biggest difference in your life this year.  
Please share your thoughts/concerns/progress with our community by leaving a comment below. Your lessons may make the difference in someone’s day right now.
PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Pink Sherbet Photography


Love Starters: 3 Ways To Start Your Year From LOVE v.s. FEAR

I am a big believer in the phenomenon that how you begin your year is how you will live your year. And as I recently learned from my acupuncturist Dr. Feng, there is an ancient Chinese proverb that says the exact same thing. That is powerful medicine. Think about it, how you decide to step into these first few weeks of January says a lot about the energy you will walk with the remaining 11 months.

To get into the spirit of how I want to begin a new year, I like to imagine myself wearing a new pair of shoes that fits who I want to BE that year, and then see myself walk through the days of the calendar month by month wearing those shoes.

For 2011, wearing red velvet, heeled, rounded toe, 1930s looking beauties, I had a radical thought for how to step into this coming year: "What if I I made a conscious choice to choose LOVE instead of FEAR, in every moment of every day? Like literally input a new decision making tree into myself, so that when fear showed up, I could turn the channel and find my way to happy place vs scary place… what would happen?"

Now I’m not talking about living without fear, because I think that it’s natural to feel fear in today’s world. I am talking about amping up awareness of fear so keenly that you could see it and smell it as soon as it arrives, and then using all of your self-love and feminine super power muscles, make the choice to move through it to find the truth, to find love for yourself.

So I’ve put on my red velvets and turned this question into a 40-day self-love practice called "See past the fear into the love." While I don’t know how this will all turn out, I do know that in the past 5 days since I started this walk, I am happier, more peaceful and feeling more loved than ever before.

Some of the benefits I’ve already experienced include:

* The ability to ignore the voices of "You better have a plan. What are your goals for 2011? What do you mean you don’t know yet?"

* The ability to enjoy the fact by January 31st I will have clarity on my stake for 2011… and I’m loving being in the not-knowing and discovering in the meantime. Journaling, reading, listening, meditating.

* I am taking naps. When I feel tired, instead of pressuring myself to have it all figured out, I go to sleep. Usually I wake up with some really great insight.

* I have turned the constant churn of my mind off, the mind that is always generating a new idea or angle about how to solve, create or find the answer to what to do. My mind is clear and I am learning to listen with my body.

* I’ve created less work and more impact – enough said.

This is all one big experiment, and as I learn, I promise to share with you. For now, I share with you 3 of the self-love guidelines my practice of "See past the fear into the love" has given me for starting out the year. I call them Love Starters, because they support you to start your 2011 from LOVE not FEAR, and in today’s crazy world, we can all use the support!

1. Revise Your Timeline to have 2011 "Figured out."

FEAR: "Rush, rush, move into action! You must know what you are going to do, accomplish, where you going in 2011, now!"

LOVE: "Give yourself the month of January to REVEAL what this year desires to GIVE YOU, vs you being the one to make it all happen. You will be delighted and surprised, promise."

If Rome wasn’t built in a day, why the heck would you try to figure out your entire year in a week? The entire month of January according to the Native American tradition is called the ‘dream time.’ Think about it. The northern hemisphere of the earth is frozen, things are still. We humans would be well served to be still too. The value of the stillness of January is that in the silence we can tune into our Inner Wisdom and see possibilities for our year that we couldn’t if we were busy moving into full action. Give yourself full permission to take the pressure off of having to figure it out all of 2011 now (or ignoring it completely). Do like the groundhog does, come out on Feb 2nd with your grand 2011 statements and desires.

2. Let Your Body Tell You What It Needs

FEAR: "You have to fit into a bathing suit in a few months you know… all that sugar, fat and alcohol you consumed is sitting right on your hips… work out 7 days a week, diet, and refrain from eating anything and everything that you enjoy, it’s what you have to do to get back in shape."

LOVE: "What you consumed over the holidays is the past, it’s irrelevant to today… and the truth is that while you probably did indulge, you enjoyed yourself! Now your body wants something different. Listen to what she needs, LOVE her in to the shape she wants. And give her some time to get there. Being healthy and fit sounds way better than dieting!"

The tabloids and slew of diet-focused emails you receive in January would have you believing that if you don’t drop 5lbs by Jan 31, you are doomed. Did you know that it’s a normal winter activity for your body to put on a few extra lbs to keep you warm? Give your temple a chance, she will shed what she doesn’t need, if you listen. Maybe it’s a cleanse or pulling back on sugar. Drop the militant approach and the focus on all the ‘bad’ choices you made to get here… focus on listening to where your body wants to go from here.

3. Relax, don’t do it. Slow down.

FEAR: "The party is over! Holidays are done. Time to get back to work. Look, you are already behind! Better speed it up."

LOVE: "Slow down, there is no where to speed off too. Practice being present. Enjoy the stillness. Pay attention to clearing out clutter – in your body, mind, emotions and spirit. Slowing down now will help you go faster later."

While your achievement junkie and doing addict may be pulling your arm and pushing you from behind to get a move on it, to propel yourself into action, your Inner Wisdom knows that January, the dreaming time, is a time of stillness, replenishment and clearing. This is the time for inner movement not outer movement. So concentrate your energy on things that bring you internal clarity, that clear your physical and emotional bodies and that replenish you. I for one have been enjoying my naps! The more you can slow down, the more you will be able to hear the wisdom, and fuel up for the work ahead.

BONUS LOVE STARTER: Pick your pair of shoes for 2011 – what and how will you walk through 2011? And if you really want to turn up the self love, go out and buy them! Or find a picture of them and put them where you can see them.

I really encourage you to give yourself the month of January to clear out and listen for what is upcoming in your year. To give yourself the gift of self-love by taking care of the most important partner you will ever have in this lifetime – you.

I understand the pressure to have it all figured out, to move into action, to get that body back in shape today, I notice it all around me, and sometimes, more than I would like it to, it does creep in and catch hold of my emotions, my mind and my spirit. Which is why I chose this 40-day self love practice of seeing beyond the fear into the love. The moment I feel myself moving into rush mode, feeling anxiety about not having my entire calendar planned, or faced with another 15 hour day… I am committed to stopping, noticing my own fear, and seeing past it to love.

I’ve already found answers, some I have shared here with you. And I know there will be more. I look forward to celebrating February 13, the international day of self-love, with you so that we can all celebrate the gift of love we chose to start our year with.

Resolved: A More Lucid State of Being

Have you been feeling on the verge of a breakthrough? This could be the year to do that. We’ve all heard think outside the box. This year, resolve to be outside the box.

 In our culture, the typical gifting period of the year shifts rapidly to this moment of fresh proclamations and reclamations, to a time of resolution and hope for an even better you, a happier you, a fuller and more enriched you. Bursting forth from the discarded wrappings and boxes were the surprises and the joys of those holiday gifts, representing something new, something you didn’t have before (in theory).  

For this New Year of 2011, here is something new, a gift to give yourself and your loved ones: that of you climbing outside box-like inner rigidities and becoming open to the surprise of new creative beliefs and ideas about how your life’s structure really could feel, look and act.

After we open our festive presents, we usually discard, or recycle, the container boxes. However, all too often, we don’t recycle our assumptions and inner rules we’ve been employing in our everyday life decisions – whether they have been handed to us or we have created for ourselves. There is no clearing the inner room of the detritus of coping mechanisms and thoughts generated in the past. We crazily cling to what seem to the be the rules of the game and then layer, upon layer, any new ground rules as we go.

I think of this particular inner operative structure as a box of rules and regulations,  the core beliefs and assumptions that create our hard drive programming and provide the underpinnings of how we build our day-to-day life. Here are some typical examples. Some people believe “no pain, no gain.” Some assume that “life is tough.” Others think “People should be nice to others and take care of them,” “There isn’t enough,” “I must work hard and/or achieve status to have value,” “I must work out everyday to be good.”  There are more like these and none of them are actually true. Often these core assumptions are quite unconscious, but usually, lurking in the cellar of the inner landscape are these old ideas and they do affect a person’s ability to be more creative, more free and more alive.

The good news is that realizing that we carry old thought and belief structures about the nature of reality, our personal reality, takes us halfway to the solution. After that, many rigidity-remedial practices exist if some part of your inner structure is stuck and needs some dismantling, even if you still don’t know exactly what and where it is. There might be two general approaches to softening unhelpful belief structures and sending them to the compost pile. One slant encompasses doing sort of methods and the other comprises those that concentrate on being.

Attaining a more lucid state of being can start with focusing on experiencing the now, or in other words, staying in the moment. We can do this by savoring the little things in daily life.  Focus on small amounts of time. Pay attention to the act of breathing. Find moments for meditation, contemplation or daydreaming. Practice deep indulgence of the five senses by intensely seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling what is around you.  Integrate daily chores with enhanced sensory awareness, such as listening to music while cleaning or sitting in a Jacuzzi while doing homework.  

Creative, active, doing, ways of breaking out of the old box are numerous. Think of coloring outside the lines as you consider more imaginative approaches to daily living.  Drive to work a different way for an entire week. Eat breakfast for dinner. Get out the paints and crayons and make a very messy drawing. Play with little children for hours and allow their imagination to spark your own.  In essence, use your imagination and humor to mix up the status quo.  Loosen structural ideas of right/wrong, good/bad, left brain/right brain, correct/incorrect to start mixing up the programming.
As you practice ways of decomposing old structural assumptions, you will find that more intuition and more insights can start to break through into your consciousness. Chipping away at solid beliefs eventually cause the cracking and breaking that can enable a more enlivened state. It will be worth the effort of this New Year resolution. Remember, the box was not the gift. It was a container, a structure to pass the surprises along. Keep the surprise. Keep the gift. Lose the box.

Margaret Ruth has been on radio, television, published in newspapers and magazines and major websites. She is the author of Superconscious Connections: The Simple Psychic Truths of Perfectly Satisfying Relationships (O Books Publishing). Contact Psychic Margaret Ruth on her Facebook page, or email mr@margaretruth.com. You can also get details on private readings, hear the weekly podcast on metaphysical topics, and enjoy the blog at www.margaretruth.com.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / David Purser

Say ‘Just Enough’ In 2010

In the aftermath of the holidays and a refrigerator full to the brim with leftovers, I remember a disturbing fact: 1 billion people in the world are hungry while we in America discard – throw away – 40 percent of our food a day (I heard that the estimate is about 1200 calories per person per day). Do the math. If we – 325 million strong – stopped wasting food – we could feed perhaps 130 million people with what we already discard!

Remember when no one wore seat belts and littering was commonplace in America?

I do. It was the way of the world when I was a child. We would throw paper or garbage out the car window as if it was nothing at all. That was the norm of behavior until an awareness campaign changed our mindset. "Buckle up for safety buckle up"….and soon we all wore seatbelts. The Litter Bug came on the scene and soon we stopped littering and then began recycling.

Perhaps we can launch an awareness campaign to Stop Wasting Food….a JUST ENOUGH campaign for restaurants to serve smaller portions, for diners to request ‘just enough’.

I am guilty of wasting food – each week I clean out our frig and still find I throw food away – albeit with a twinge of guilt. But it has my attention and I’m finding that I do it less and less. When we are in a restaurant our family does a lot of ‘splitting’ meals and we are never leaving hungry. And, food is rarely left on the plates.

My parents used to say ‘eat your food and join the clean plate club’. We all need to become its members today.

Let’s turn our attention to our own food consumption and remember, Less is More.

Reduce your food intake – at home and at restaurants – eat enough to be full but don’t overeat and overconsume: eat Just Enough.

Clean your plate. Use your leftovers up so nothing is thrown away.

We can likely solve the hunger problem globally if we attend to our own behaviors locally.

What an easy New Years Resolution to make……eating Just Enough.

Happy 2010 – the year of ‘just enough’.

Activate A Natural High

I’m finishing out the final days of 2009 with a juice and mineral broth fast. It includes miso broth, organic chicken broth, probiotic juice drinks such as Good Belly, coconut water, and Recharge, for electrolytes. It’s a natural high that has me waking up smiling and facing the world with a clear, unclouded vision.

In this altered state, which also includes lots of rest, I’m able to process the seeming chaos of the world with a mystical mindset. The image which rises in my mind is that of a catapeller getting ready to enter the cocoon stage … the green goo stage … in which everything dissolves into "nothingness".

In this stage, there is the sense that all is lost. However, just the opposite is true. There are a few cells in that green goo that are holding the vision of a butterfly. They will become its DNA.

I describe this in my book, Rapid Evolution, this way:

"We are at the time of our metamorphosis. It is a time when our minds sink into the cocoon of our hearts and our physical bodies fall away. Heart-centered, nourished by our own breath, we feel ourselves accepting more light into our body, light that energized by the life force of the Universe. It is a process like rewiring a house from 120 to 220 volts. Because our rapid evolution is a conscious choice, our brain will create the mental pathways for physical change to occur."

Today, turning my attention to my physical body, and preparing to enjoy healthy foods again, I begin with Bieler’s Broth which my housemate Charley Cropley ND assures me is the best possible path to choose. Here is the recipe:

Bieler’s Broth

STEAM then blend: Take equal parts (a handful) of the following fresh, raw ingredients: zuchinni, spinach, green beans, and celery.

Place the steamed vegetables in a blender with raw Parsley. Add one cup of organic chicken or miso broth, and BLEND. Drink one cup of broth every two hours until finished.

Do you have your own fasting stories to share? If so, please post them as a comment here.

Blessings to You in the New Year!

-Alexia Parks



Have Trouble With Procrastinating? Maybe You Just Need A Little Help From Your Friends

A friend of mine says he makes resolutions on the Jewish New Year, which usually comes in early fall, then makes them again on January 1st because he never gets around to them. I’m not convinced that he does any better the second time around, since the average New Years resolution is about as good a bet as the Clippers winning the NBA championship.

Procrastination. Someone called it “the art of keeping up with yesterday.” Most of the time, the price we pay for procrastinating is fairly small. But when it comes to important promises to ourselves—which is what New Years resolutions tend to be, or ought to be—the cost is greater.

What to do about the all-too-common tendency to put off till whenever what we should do right now? The best advice I ever heard on that issue came from a psychiatrist friend of mine named Mark Goulston (full disclosure: it’s in a book I wrote with Mark, called “Get Out of Your Own Way”). Mark’s key insight was that very often we procrastinate not because we’re lazy, afraid, unprepared, or lacking in confidence, but because we’re lonely. Think about it. Chances are, the tasks you get really mad at yourself for not following through on are things you have to do by yourself, whether it’s eating more healthy, meditating regularly, getting to bed earlier, taking the initiative to heal a tattered relationship, or … well, you can name it because you’ve been there, done that.

This leads to an important conclusion: the key to getting on with your New Years resolution—or any self-promise—might be to enlist support. Of course, not every undertaking can be turned into a team game. But you can take a cue from 12 Step Programs and line up the equivalent of a sponsor. That buddy system approach really works.

Get a trusted friend to agree to bolster your efforts, cheer you on, and talk you through your self-inflicted roadblocks. If he or she shares the same resolution and the two of you can fulfill it together, like jogging buddies and study partners, so much the better. I know someone who wanted to do volunteer work for a long time but never got around to it until her sister suggested they meet at a specified time and place.

But even if it’s a solitary endeavor, like eating a solid breakfast before going to work or phoning someone you’ve lost touch with, your buddy can play an important role. Just make a plan: call me at 8:00 ever morning and ask, “What are you eating for breakfast,” or, “I’m going to make that call on Sunday. Call me at ten a.m. and ask if I’ve done it yet.” You’ll be surprised how powerful even that little bit of accountability can be.

Even better if your buddy gives you permission to call whenever you find yourself floundering or making excuses not to follow through on your resolution. And even better than that is having a reciprocal arrangement where you serve that role for one another.

Of course, you could resolve to follow this advice and then procrastinate on finding a resolution buddy. You’re on your own with that, but at least you can declare you intent right here on this site. Get on with it, and Happy New Year.

Tai Chi for the New Year

This morning I got a phone call from a student to reschedule his private tai chi lesson. He’s done a lot of that lately, and when I said so he replied that it was a bit hard for him to afford the lessons just now. This particular student is well employed and earning strongly, in fact just the other day he regaled me with a list of electronic goodies he had bought for himself over the holidays, so the exchange got me thinking about the way so many of us spend time and money and the unspoken priorities such choices represent.  

At a time when affording healthcare is a dicey proposition for many of us and the future seems more uncertain than ever, it’s important to examine the investments we make, or don’t make, and perhaps resolve to invest with greater consciousness in the New Year. If we take stock of where we invest our resources—our time, our money, our energy—it only makes sense that we would choose happiness and health over behavior that causes health problems we may not be able treat or leaves us empty and hollow wondering why we did this or bought that.

Financial investments may disappear in a puff of smoke these days, but those made in our health and happiness keep paying dividends no matter what the financial or political climate. Imagine how much sweeter life would be if we could keep our cool most of the time, if our moods rose and dipped with the ebb and flow of days but didn’t soar with irrational exuberance only to crash and burn. Suppose we could appreciate the sublime in life but not get into the kind of trouble that leads to pain and suffering, that we could finally lose the weight we want to lose, finally get in the kind of shape we’ve wanted to be in, and as if that weren’t enough, learn a new and different way of looking at the world—one that breaks all our old habits with little effort and crushes all our old traps like soda cans underfoot.

I’m talking about mind/body practice, of course, and the one I like best is tai chi. Think of tai chi as a kind of internal alchemy, a system founded on a set of guiding principles and deepened by a unique study of body mechanics and energy. This most exalted of the Chinese martial arts is interesting not so much for its self-defense properties, which flower only with long and disciplined practice, but for what it does for the body and spirit. Studies show tai chi can build strength, increase flexibility, boost energy, improve awareness, sensitivity and balance, diminish pain and stiffness, lower blood pressure, boost immunity (), contribute to longevity, and offer us a healthier way of looking at conflict and challenge. It’s ancient, it’s wise, and it’s a real gift. You can see what tai chi looks like, and learn more about its benefits at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbUhZp4hd3w

Tai chi was very nearly lost during China’s so-called “Cultural Revolution” when the armies of Mao Tse Tung gelded, killed, or banished its masters. These days the art is practiced worldwide by people of all ages. In this country the New Age movement has done much to spread the word about this wonderful form of exercise, but rising popularity also means the authentic art is threatened with dilution. The original system was created by Chen Wang-ting (1597-1664), a 9th generation member of the Chen family and resident of a small village in the north of China. Chen constructed the system upon a tripod of Daoist thought, traditional Chinese medicine, and proven martial techniques, and the Chen family style still offers the greatest benefits, although it is also the most physically challenging of the different varieties of tai chi.

Daoists believe there is a benign underlying force or intelligence to the universe. They call this force Dao, which means The Way. In the Daoist view opposing forces, yin and yang act upon the world, and tai chi brings them into harmony. Examples of yin and yang include light and dark, male and female, up and down, day and night, hot and cold. The human body is ruled by this interplay, and movements contain both yin and yang elements. Tai chi so directly embodies this worldview that there may be no system of movement anywhere that more closely obeys a particular set of metaphysical rules. I like Daoist ideas so much I weave them into my novels, particularly The Cutting Season, The Crocodile and the Crane, and, forthcoming, Quiet Teacher.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differs from Western medicine in significant ways. Broadly put TCM costs less and has fewer side effects than its Western counterpart, and may be less effective for certain acute health crises and more effective for other, chronic conditions. TCM sees the body in terms of systems rather than organs. In the TCM model the body is crisscrossed by meridians, channels through which a life force called qi flows like water through a garden hose. Practicing Tai Chi increases this energy, opens the hoses, and aligns them for maximum flow.

China has a long and illustrious martial tradition. Conceived by monks, doctors, scholars and warriors, numerous martial systems were derived from the movements of animals and the forces of nature. Early fighting techniques were tested in combat, and were lost if ineffective. The ones used in tai chi are many of the very best techniques to survive the ages, and what made those techniques martially effective also assures they build strength, immunity and vitality. Learn more about tai chi at http://www.playtaichi.com

A tai chi class is a wonderful experience. It’s usually quiet, it affords you time to pay attention to your body and your thoughts, and it puts you in the company of people whose values support peace and health and longevity. Look for classes at local parks, community centers and health clubs. You may also find classes at martial arts schools, though most often these are given as a sideline to the school’s primary offerings. The best way to know if you’re getting authentic teaching (yes, it matters, the benefits will be much stronger it the teacher is properly trained) is to ask the teacher about her lineage. True teaching is handed down person to person in a very traditional fashion. A qualified instructor will be enthusiastic about her lineage. Evasiveness on the subject is a red flag.

Any reputable teacher will allow you to try a class, usually for free, though she may ask you to sign a liability waiver. If she won’t at least let you watch, leave immediately. Be sure and talk to other students, too. Ask them what they’re getting out of the class, how they feel about the material, the teacher, the schedule, the availability of deeper study, and whether they feel their questions are adequately answered. The atmosphere should be upbeat, positive—peaceful but enthusiastic.

Whether tai chi is right for you or whether you find yoga or one of the other offerings in the rich panoply of Asian martial arts more attractive, do consider an investment in a mind/body practice as a life-affirming resolution for the new year.

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