It’s a new year and you’re ready to create a new you, or maybe simply make one lasting positive change this year. Now that you’re a week or so into this commitment, you may feel as if there is already a brick wall standing between you and your resolution (sankalpa in Sanskrit). So if you’re already experiencing resistance and doubt, how can you recommit to your resolution and move forward with hope?
I recently gained some insight into this conundrum from my yoga teacher, Rod Stryker. The following are highlights from his new year’s day talk, which you can watch here in full.
First you have to acknowledge that you’re asking yourself to change. By it’s very definition, change requires you to take new actions that are different from your former routine. This means that there will be times of discomfort, doubt and confusion around the actions you’re asking yourself to take. As Rod describes it, it’s as if your former self was costing downhill with little resistance. Now that you’ve decided to move upward on a new path, you will first have to cross the “Valley of the Void.” The valley is where you have to deal with the unknown and unfamiliar. It’s uncomfortable and often leaves you inert. It’s a natural process, the key is to not get stuck in this inertia.
1.) Sangha – This sanskrit term loosely translates to a place where you meet your truth. If you have practiced yoga for awhile you’ve probably heard of sangha. But have you really committed to being a part of a group that supports your highest truth? In the next few weeks begin to surround yourself with people who can remind you of where you’re heading when you feel off track. Better yet, set a weekly appointment to connect with your sangha. It need not be a large group, but it should consist of people who support you and are willing to make you look at your actions honestly.
2.) Self Control – Yes, you still have to take responsibility for yourself. Even though others are there to support you, ultimately you have to seize control when your mind begins to drift and take you back to old, familiar patterns.
3.) Meditation – This is where you allow yourself to be reminded of the contentment that is always present within you. Mediation is a practice that shows you the way when you face the inevitable challenges of change. You learn to be at home with silence when you practice meditation consistently. When you are silent, there is space for you to be guided by your soul and not get lost in the noise of confusion.
Finally, yoga teaches that the source of every human being is a great and noble idea (mahad/mahat). You have a unique purpose. Your resolution should be in line with this higher aspect of yourself. In this way you’ll be motivated not only by your initial desire to fulfill your goal, but also by the understanding that it is in service of something larger than yourself. If you deny the larger purpose of your life you’re not fully being yourself. Once you connect with your unique purpose and place your resolutions in line with it, you will experience a more fulfilling life. A life that is full of joy and contentment this year and always.
This article first appeared on www.YogaLagniappe.com.