It’s the New Year, and you’ve resolved to become more punctual, eat less junk and do more yoga, all things that signal self-respect and self-care. Meanwhile, the voices in your head seem equally resolved to shred you for your “not-good-enough” efforts, perhaps viciously enough to send you running back to your old habits for protection. Zen teacher Cheri Huber believes that such behavioral boomerangs occur when — in the process of trying to improve ourselves — we get so preoccupied with rejecting how we are (and projecting how we should be) that unconscious habits, like being late and eating junk food, have free rein. In Huber’s view, changing habits first requires that we be compassionately present even when we’re behaving badly.
She explains how our social conditioning encourages distraction and suggests some concrete strategies for increasing compassionate presence, like meditation and learning to “dis-identify” with inner voices. Huber’s gentle approach is enhanced by the book’s handwritten text and illustrations, which concludes with a 30-day guided program of meditation and journaling to get you started on the road to positive change. These are great, simple tools to increase self-acceptance and disable unconscious fears.