There is a space between “resolution” and “change” that works like “magic”. I like to call it “doing”, though I’m not always really good at it. I like to think about it, consider it, figure it out. That’s my favorite one – figuring. It reminds me of Andy Griffith. But “doing” – that takes practice.
In 1990 K.T Oslin released a song called “Come Next Monday”. I think it’s a break up song, but sometimes I think of this track when I’m trying to make a change in my life. Here’s the first bit of lyrics –
Come next Monday
I’m goin’ to bed early
I won’t talk dirty for a week or two
Goin’ on a diet
Just like sugar, honey
Come next Monday
I’m gonna give up on you
Whether you’re giving up on chocolate cake or giving up a bad relationship, the song says it all; the struggle is real. It fits for this time of year. There are lots of resolutions in the air, well intended plans for self-improvement that we’ll implement on Jan. 1.
It’s the planning to make a change – just like sugar, honey – that gets me tangled up. I like planning so much that’s all I’ll do and I won’t necessarily get around to do the “doing” part of it. I get caught up in the future of it all. That’s when things can get snarled and unclear.
I think sometimes a resolution can have a superficial angle and also be a very deep wish for change. As an example, if someone wants to lose ten pounds in the new year, if they turn that idea around and really look at it, the deeper meaning might be that they wish to create healthier eating habits. This is a different approach than from a crash diet perspective and will have longer lasting and more beneficial results.
You can use your yoga practice to get underneath the resolution to see what is really going on. Yoga is a powerful tool for transformation because yoga brings its practitioner right into the moment where wishing and fantasies about the future cannot create confusion and brain fog. If you worry about the next pose you won’t manage too well in the one you’re in. Your only job in that moment is to stay with the breath, and a lot of clarity can arrive in that moment.
As you begin to see more clearly what you want for yourself, you are less at the mercy of ideas and criticisms others and yourself have put onto you. Ram Dass calls this “polishing the mirror”.
Krishna Das says of kirtan (devotional chanting), “It deepens the channel of grace, and it’s a way of being present in the moment…repeating these names ripens our karma; the things that are not helpful for us are removed, and the things that are helpful for us are brought into the flow of our life—just through this practice, not through any action of our own. It’s a ripening process.”
I propose we approach the New Year not with resolutions we inflict on ourselves but instead with a gentle clearing away of the things that don’t serve us, that aren’t helpful and that don’t reflect who we really are.
Instead of complicating matters, let’s get out of our own way in the New Year. Let’s allow yoga practice to assist in clearing the way. Breathe deeply and settle into knowing that you are already a most excellent being and it’s only a matter of remembering and clearing the rubbish off the top. After all, you wouldn’t throw away a mirror for being grimy, you’d spray some Windex on it, clean it up and admire that pretty face in the clear reflection.
I’ll leave you with words from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which suggests instead of a resolution for each New Year, the way to go might be a nightly resolution to be fresh, inspired and free of your own nonsense each New Day –
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Join me Sunday Jan. 4, 2015 for a free workshop – The Resolution Solution. From 2 – 3:45 we will gather, practice a little yoga and discuss the nature of resolutions. We’ll talk about intentions and building a sense of self efficacy through small and lasting changes. You may make donations to Pace Center for Girls.
My holiday schedule at Uru Yoga and Beyond – Divine Balance and Flow Monday 5:30 pm and Thursday New Year’s Day 5:30 pm