Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 2/1/2019 (1113 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At the start of every new year, it’s tempting to lay down broad resolutions: eat less, work out more, be more organized.
And while most of these ideas are thrown out into the world with good intentions, more often than not they fall by the wayside come the end of January, if not even sooner.
Keith Macpherson, who is a mindfulness coach, musician, motivational speaker and now author suggests a different approach: rather than choosing goals, which can often be unrealistic ones based on what you feel you should be doing, turn your gaze inward and ask yourself what you want to do and why.
"For me, I think the No. 1 thing when setting resolutions or goals of any kind is so often we’re not consciously doing it, we’re just saying, ‘Oh yeah, I want to eat less this year, I need to go to the gym.’ It’s just the conscious mind making the decision, but there’s this other part of us, the unconscious mind, that to me I’ve found is connected to our creativity, our spirit, our intuitions," says Macpherson.
'This simplest way to think about mindfulness is that mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment to yourself and others with kindness' – Keith Macpherson
"So when making resolutions I find it really helpful to check in intuitively as well. I take it to my heart and I check in, I ask the truest part of me, my intuition, and I ask, ‘What is it that I truly want to create in my life right now?’ And there’s a difference when I listen to that place, as opposed to the outer noise that is telling me I should do this or I need to be that. It’s like, what is on my heart that is most resonant?
"There’s something really powerful about really learning how to listen internally to my inner compass, and to set the resolution from that inner place is very effective, I find."
Macpherson recently released a self-help book, Making Sense of Mindfulness, which covers five principles to "integrate mindfulness practice into your daily life."
Making Sense of Mindfulness is Macpherson’s first foray into the literary world.
As part of his mindfulness practice, the longtime musician (he also released his debut solo album, Shine, in September) and wellness coach writes a page each day, and one day, the writing far exceeded one page and he knew intuitively he was on the path to writing a book.
Two handwritten scribblers later, and the tenets of Making Sense of Mindfulness were sketched out.
"It’s quite a practical approach to this whole topic; mindfulness has become such a buzzword, it’s everywhere, and what does it exactly mean?" Macpherson says of the book.
"This simplest way to think about mindfulness is that mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment to yourself and others with kindness.
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"It sounds so simple but if you really consider it, most of us are going around in the world and our constant state of thinking is beating ourselves up. The research done on this — we think over 60,000 thoughts a day, 85 per cent of those tend to be chronic, repetitive thoughts, and 95 per cent of them are negative. How many of us are walking around and not being kind to ourselves in our thinking? We’re just, ‘I’m not good enough, I need to be better, I shouldn’t have said that.’ So mindfulness in its very basic form is to start noticing what are you thinking about and are these thoughts building me up or beating me up?"
Macpherson agrees the constant distractions from technology and life’s everyday exhaustion can make carving time out of self-care and meditation more difficult.
Still, he insists creating a little space in the day to "press pause" and be in the present moment, whatever that means to you, is an valuable part of mental wellness and opens the door to positive change.
"This is a thing about mindfulness, too; there’s a saying in Hawaii — I ka pono mea — it means everything is happening perfectly on time, yet it might not always feel like that... But know that in this moment, you’re always getting what you need, the right people showing up, the right opportunities," says Macpherson.
"Everything is happening perfectly on time when you start getting present."
Erin Lebar Manager of audience engagement for news
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.