I’m choosing to ignore all the memes about how 2022 is “2020 too” (no one needs that kind of negativity in their life) and believe that this is going to be a good year. Besides a celebration of what we’re leaving behind us, the start of a new year also means new year’s resolutions. You know the ones: eat less sugar, stop drinking alcohol, go to the gym more, lose 10 pounds, save more money. I don’t know about you, but the most common resolutions do not sound fun. It’s no surprise that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail—people expect resolutions to make them feel happier or stress less instead of prioritizing stress relief or happiness in order to achieve resolutions. New year’s goals typically have nothing to do with stress levels, happiness, or fulfillment, but if we really want to eat healthier, work out more, or save money, mental health should be the first thing we work on in order to get us there.
Enter: Kadeem One. Kadeem is an author, meditation expert, holistic wellness coach, motivational speaker, aromatherapist, and hypnotherapist (how’s that for a long list of credentials?). He has worked with a variety of clients and even Fortune 500 companies to help achieve goals and develop habits that stick for a lifetime using meditation. Obviously, I had to grill him so we can all break out of the New Year’s resolution rut and finally adopt healthier and happier habits that will extend beyond 2023. Read on for all his best tips to use meditation to (actually) achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
Why is meditation so important for achieving resolutions?
Good for you if “meditate more” is one of your resolutions, but meditation is also an important tool to achieve any goal, from going to the gym to getting a promotion at work. Why? It helps you get in the mindset required for intentional decision making. “Most of us are constantly in a sympathetic state known as the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response, or a high state of stress,” Kadeem explained. “It can be hard to pinpoint problem areas or figure out roads to success when we’re in this sympathetic state. Meditation puts the body in a parasympathetic state, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ response. During this state, you feel balanced and focused, which helps you stay committed to achieve New Year’s resolutions.”
What this means is that consistent meditation allows your body to be in a calmer state, which improves motivation and decision making, and you’re less likely to make decisions out of stress response (like ordering Chinese takeout after a stressful day instead of heating up the nourishing meal that you know will actually make you feel better). A meditation practice can also be beneficial for improving sleep quality, and when you’re sleeping better, you have more energy throughout the day to go to the gym, crush your work presentation, connect with loved ones, or cook nourishing meals. “Meditation regulates sleep by increasing GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps create deep relaxation and sleep,” Kadeem said. In other words, meditation is the secret to making better decisions and achieving optimal energy so that you increase your chance of achieving goals.
I’m sold. So where do I start?
Start with focusing on breath
New to meditation? Kadeem recommended newbies start their meditation journey with breathing. “For a simple start, set an alarm for 60 seconds and do some deep inhales and exhales while pausing in between each,” he suggested. “This technique is called square breathing (also known as box breathing). Inhale, exhale, and pause in between for an equal amount of time (like three to four seconds each).” Once you get used to 60 seconds of square breathing, extend to 90 seconds, two minutes, etc. and work your way up to whatever amount of time you need. If you start panicking when thoughts like your to-do list or weekend plans come up, know that meditation is about stillness of the body. Acknowledge the wandering thoughts, come back to your breath, and give yourself grace. Sitting still and making time for yourself are good enough.
Aim for consistency over quality
A meditation practice doesn’t have to be 30 minutes of deep, intense meditation to reap serious benefits. In fact, the most important part of a meditation practice is not the length of sessions or even the quality of your focus. The most important part is consistency and showing up for yourself every day, even if it’s just 60 seconds while riding the subway or in line at Starbucks. “You can’t just meditate once or twice and think it’ll do the trick,” Kadeem explained. “That’s like saying you went to the gym once or twice and expect to lose 20 pounds. Meditation is like a muscle: You have to keep working at it for it to grow and strengthen your life.” Aim for a daily practice, knowing that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” meditation. Some days will be better than others in terms of length or focus, but the important thing is that you show up every day.
Focus on an intention
While any type of meditation can help you stay on track to hit your resolutions, doing meditations for your specific goals can take it a step further. For achieving goals and resolutions, Kadeem recommended gratitude meditations in which your focus is on being thankful for various aspects of your life related to the resolution (like gratitude that your body can move, gratitude for nourishing food, etc.), visual meditations where you visualize your best self (like doing 100 push-ups at the gym or being confident at work), or expanded meditations, which means focusing on wishing others well, just to name a few different types.
You can also search for meditations on any topic, so try Googling things like “Meditations for healthy eating” or “Meditations for high performance at work.” If your resolutions are more specific, get more broad by searching for “Meditations for abundance” or “Meditation to help achieve your best self.” The key, of course, is to find whichever type resonates with you (and your goals) most. To try some of Kadeem’s meditations for yourself, check out his teachings on Insight Timer or tune into his weekly live meditations.
Know that you already have the ability to be your best self
Another problem with resolutions is that when we think about where we wish we could be, we’re telling ourselves that we’re not already enough as we are. In reality, we can be our very happiest, healthiest selves right now—it’s just a matter of how we show up. “We have that power to heal ourselves,” Kadeem said. “Achieving that best self may require you to have a daily meditation practice, keep a gratitude journal, change up your friendships to those who energize and support you, donate to charity, or meet with a holistic wellness coach to help you with your blind spots.” His point: You may think you need to lose 20 pounds or get a major promotion to be your best self, but you actually already are—it’s just a matter of making small changes and showing up as your best every day. “If you are looking to thrive in the new year and beyond, start to do a few new things like meditation to truly achieve the highest and best version of yourself.” Yep, that’s it.