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Cultivating a daily mindfulness practice

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In today’s society, we are constantly barraged by the belief that we have to work ourselves ragged in order to be of value. We take pride in working on the weekends or somehow getting by on four hours of sleep, as if they are badges of honor.

As change agents, it’s not difficult to see the shortcomings of this behavior when it’s geared toward making a bunch of money or acquiring possessions. We think of how silly all these businesspeople are, running the rat race. Yet, so many of us still engage with this same mentality as part of our change work. It’s bad to work yourself to the bone for money, but it’s necessary and helpful if you are serving the common good, right?

Wrong. This behavior is inherently unsustainable and destructive. It keeps us from offering kindness and compassion to ourselves. It obstructs our ability to do so for others. It decreases our long-term impact by sapping our energy and creativity.

Yes, we need to drive change. We need to live our purpose. We need to try, hard. But we also need to drive change for the long-haul. And to live our lives from a place of peace and joy.

The best way to shift your life toward healthy, sustainable patterns is through a daily mindfulness practice. It’s as simple as that.

It doesn’t need to be five hours of zen meditation in the freezing cold at the top of a mountain. You don’t need really flow-y pants or bundles of safe. It can be as simple as just five minutes of being still, detaching yourself from your thoughts. It can be a long walk without checking your phone or listening to music. It can be yoga or soccer or basketball. It can be just taking ten deep breaths. It can be whatever you want it to be.

The only necessary ingredient of your mindfulness practice is you take yourself out of the need to be productive. Take yourself out of your thoughts. Find a place of stillness and be there. Make it a home you can go to every day and replenish yourself. It is a friend that is always there for you.

This isn’t “woo-woo” or self-indulgent. It’s basic self-care. And it’s necessary for lasting change work.

What’s your daily practice?


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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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