10 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions worthy of the Buddha, Gandhi, Jesus, Mandela, Obama, yo’mama.

Via on Dec 31, 2008

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This is the darkest hour of the dark ages.
Disease, famine and warfare are raging like the fierce north wind…The various schools of the sangha are fighting amongst themselves with sectarian bitterness; and although the Buddha’s teaching was perfectly expounded and there have been many reliable teachings since then from other great gurus, yet they pursue intellectual speculations…the yogis of tantra are losing the insight of meditation.They spend their whole time going through villages and performing little ceremonies for material gain. The Sadhana of Mahamudra, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

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The climate crisis offers us the chance to experience what few generations in history have had the privilege of experiencing: a generational mission; a compelling moral purpose; a shared cause; and the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict of politics and to embrace a genuine moral and spiritual challenge.
~ Al Gore.~It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

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Today is 2008. Tonight, a big party and the LED-lit ball in Times Square drops, everyone blows kazoos and smooches (or, if they’re lucky, they get lucky). Tomorrow is 2009…and another year has drained out of the hourglass: this short, singular, precious human life: 2009 represents a chance to make a few changes so that we might better benefit others, and our planet.

Half-empty: 2009 is upon us…and our world, scientifically-speaking, is going to hell in a handbasket. Our world is, like a whirlpool, encircling upon itself in ever-faster, tighter downward (upward?) spirals.

Half-full: 2009 is upon us…and never before have we had Beethoven and the Beatles just an iPod click away…never before can we travel the world with ease, access the ancient traditions of yoga and Buddhism with genuine, thoroughly trained teachers…never before has media been so democratized—just a free blog away, personal slash mass communication is at our fingertips.

As yoga teacher Richard Freeman said when I interviewed him with Rose Taylor at the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House sixpointtwofive years ago, just after I’d started what became, briefly, a national magazine, and now a web site, it’s a horrible, challenging era—and he wouldn’t trade it for any other epoch in human history. It’s a time for ordinary heroes, for good parents and community activists, for those concerned not only with their own family but with leaving the world just a little bit better for the next seven generations.

So what can you do, if you’re concerned 1) about being truly happy inside and 2) helping everyone else and the outside world to be happy and healthy?

Here’s my (off the) Top (of my head) 10 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions list—submitted at your feet for consideration among any other New Year’s resolutions (please submit your own, below).

1. Meditate Two Minutes every morning: Or more. Meditation, no matter your religion, is simply mind training: helping you to be in the present moment, helping you not to get caught up in your own bullshit, complaining, storylines, or hopes and fears. So whether it connects you more closely to God, Allah or just the good ol’fashioned present moment, it’s gym for the mind and heart.

2. Don’t fill the Gaps: gaps between activities allow our minds to reopen, expand and have original, often time-and-effort-saving big ideas. So don’t walk with your head down, lost in thought. Don’t just text and call folks when you’re driving or waiting. Don’t read the NYer when you’re on the can. Allow a little space in your life. Doing nothing, as a great Buddhist teacher once said, is the foundation for doing anything—and it’s one thing we Americans are really, really bad at. So let go of one or two minutes of entertainment a day—and look out upon this life and world.

3. Own your Karma—it’s fun, God knows why. Think about everything you do, and the effect (positive and or negative) it has. Take responsibility for it. That’s why the Green movement, personally speaking, is less a fad than a way of life for me—as a Buddhist, I’ve sworn to try and take responsibility for being of some benefit to others, and our planet (all sentient beings, is how we put it)—and if I’m mindful of what I’m doing each day and minute, I’ll naturally want to support local businesses, buy fair-trade, buy organics, recycle, turn lights off, compost, ride my bike…and have a good time doing so. It’s not about being perfect, pure, or righteous: it’s about caring.

4. Exercise: physical movement for at least half an hour a day, every day, is not only good for your health (duh) it’s good for your mind, your heart, your emotions…it gets everything going and flowing, and gets your mind off of work or family or whatever it’s become unhelpfully stuck upon. The key to continuity? Do something you enjoy. I enjoy bball, climbing, yoga, biking, the occasional visit to the gym (and their hot tub and sauna). In the last few months I stopped exercising almost entirely, however, and found it hard to get myself to do any of the above. So how’d I get myself back on the tracks? Got a few friends to join me.

5. Pets. If you’re going to get a pet in 2009, get a rescue. Why? Right now, in the US, we’re perpetuating n animal Holocaust every year…we kill millions of dogs and cats bc so many folks choose to buy from breeders or pet stores. Fact is, you can find almost any breed if you look on petfinder.com…as for training and temperament issues, just watch the Dog Whisperer and you’ll realize that purepreed or mutt, 99% of the situation is your problem—meaning you can solve just about anything once you know how to.

6. Eat Meat only occasionally—and when you do, know where it comes from and how it was treated while it was alive (fed antibiotics? Free-range? Or factory farm?). Make like Michael Pollan and eat plants, mostly. You don’t gotta be an overbearing, righteous hippie zealot—it’s simply better for you, esp now that fish is so full of mercury it’s now a no-no in all 50 states for pregnant ladies. So not only will you be sparing the occasional life, and taking a load off your health, but you’ll be really, really enjoying the meat and fish you do eat, instead of just casually enjoying it /slash/ taking it for granted.

7. Green clean your home. The average American home’s air is more polluted than the outside air, even in metropolitan areas. That’s largely due to your undersink areas having more chemicals than the average laboratory pre WWII, when, subsequently, chemical warfare companies turned their attention to the domestic market (Agent Orange fertilizer, anyone?). So go eco—there’s lots of mostly far cheaper solutions, some of them time-tested (vinegar, baking soda, hot water), some of them brand spankin’ new, that’ll do the toughest jobs without leaving behind lots of toxic, cancer-related chemicals in your home and our waterways and air.

8. Make your next shower curtain non-PVC (I bought affordable organic hemp, cotton or linen curtain off ebay). PVC is connected with cancer—it’s all bad, through and through. Keep it away from children (many rubber duckies and other toys are made of PVC!) and out of bathrooms, where heat and water make a toxic combination, at the least.

9. Right livelihood. Whether your job is of boring, local benefit (plumbing) or glamorous, far-reaching benefit (ecofashion) doesn’t matter. Just try and synch your morals and what you spend 8 hours a day, or more, doing. This isn’t obvious as it sounds—if it were, we’d all be doing something we believed in. Life is short: make 2009 the year when you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

10. Call your mom and dad and work out any nagging issues. Personally speaking, I haven’t historically been around my dad too much, and while I love him we do some funny history. My mom, on the other hand, was a huge hero for me back in the day…but I don’t call or visit her often now that I’m all growns up. So I’ll look to rectify both of those situations this year—because, again, as New Year’s reminds us, life is short.

All that’s off the top of my head. If you search at elephantjournal.com, you’ll find articles relating to most of the above. Tie a mindful one on for me tonight—I gotta get Hotelephant cleaned and the keg (local microbrew) was just dropped off and we’re having a huge pahty tonight and DJ Tadiohead is coming over. Happy New Year’s!

Oh, if you comment with better suggestions, I might just ixnay one or two of the above and put yours in.

If you’d like to support my little column for the big Huffington Post, please read the below here instead, and comment.

Above image via The Onion (in case you didn’t guess).

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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18 Responses to “10 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions worthy of the Buddha, Gandhi, Jesus, Mandela, Obama, yo’mama.”

  1. Adriane says:

    I plan to try as many new things as possible, meet as many mindful, caring people as possible, and enjoy living in the mountains!

  2. Pippa says:

    Seriously, rescue dogs are the best. I got my little Sugar Bugar at Puppy Lifeline Rescue in Brighton – they found her dumped on the side of the road somewhere in New Mexico – and 8 years later I am still absolutely smitten. Although I love all dogs, I’m convinced that rescue dogs are smarter, more loyal and loving than the rest. I’ll raise a toast to all those who take the effort to give rescues the love they so deserve…

    • Jan says:

      Thank you for your kind words regarding adopting rescue dogs. I am a canine companion volunteer at the Humane Society in my town, and the experience has enhanced my life. It is such a heartwarming feeling when one of our dogs leaves the shelter for a forever home.

  3. Lindsey Wolf lindsey says:

    I’d like to add acceptance, and “going with the flow.” In an effort to be mindful and conscientious, and in being a goal-setter, I tend to have attachments to certain outcomes. Often. This year I’m working on letting go. I’ve had a challenging 2008 and sometimes when it all seems too much? It’s good to remember you don’t have to figure it all out. I’m definitely a believer in the greater plan over my little plan, sometimes I just tend to forget that, in ’09 I will work on remembering! That and prune the fruit trees in my new backyard. Living off my own new lil plot of land as much as I can!

  4. Right on, Mr. Lewis. My number one resolution: listen. Listen to others, to the conditions arising around me, and most importantly to that all-important inner voice born of intuition and clear seeing… it’s in there and this year, my focus is the turn down the jumble around it so that it can be heard and followed. How? Your #1. Danke! Happy happy New Year! – Heather

  5. Dave says:

    I read the other day that obama works out 90 minutes a day. I’m inspired to try to move up to 60 minutes a day. walking plus yoga (bad knee, no running)

    I hope people can do 30 minutes a day of meditation! This is a great list…

  6. Andrea says:

    I particularly like the don’t fill in the gap suggestion.

    As far as having a green, healthy, clean home, one of the best things you can do is simply not wear shoes in the house.

    A resolution I’m considering: Let go.

  7. Suzanne says:

    TWO MINUTES?! Is that a typo?

  8. Rachel Steele rachel says:

    awesome :)

  9. Pat says:

    Waylon, I liked your resolution about not filling in the gaps….it’s akin to my own resolutions: Do One Less Thing, and Focus.

    Those two things bring me back to mindful activity, mindful living, mindful relationships. If I’m focussed in on the person and situation, they know that I consider them/it very important. And in a world where too many us feel unworthy, this is a resolution I must do.

  10. Pat,

    Excellent comment. You are right on. The world could use a few more folks like yourself!

    All the Best,

    Philip

  11. Miriam Hall says:

    I’ve decided to do all of what you suggest above – but under the auspices of one “resolution” or intention: watch my consumption, both in and out! Food, money, speech, energy…

    Thanks for posting!

  12. Cybergabi says:

    From a Dutch perspective, some of them are pretty ‘standard’ (like cycling an hour a day to get to work and back).

    Do you have green energy suppliers in the States (like power services which generate their power from alternative sources, like wind, solar power or tidal power)? I’d add them to the list, ’cause your laptop just won’t run without it ;-)

  13. kim says:

    Love the list but if you own your own karma, how can you be okay with eating meat at all knowing that you would then be responsible for slaughtering a sentient being?

    • Michele says:

      In a way you can help the animal and create good karma because if you are mindful and do good things that animal gives you energy to do those things. You give the animal a chance that it wouldn't have had to do good and they can be reborn as a higher being. Everything in moderation- middle way :)

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