New Year’s Resolutions
This year, I resolve to: Lose weight. Eat more greens. Exercise daily.
Psychologically, resolutions are heavy over our head and heart. When we trip up in mid-January or February, we feel as though we have failed. And we stop.
A softer, gentler (and for me, more successful) approach exists in Ayurveda. Setting an intention for the moment, for the day, for the year somehow frees us to miss….and start again without the guilt and the sense of failure that accompanies that resolution.
Perhaps this difference stems from the origins of the words. Resolve began as meaning to unloose or release and evolved into multiple uses including its use in the context of the new year–to reach a firm decision. Intend, from the Latin intendere meaning to aim at or direct, means to direct the mind on and to have in mind as a purpose or goal.
When I direct my mind to a positive goal and I experience a day (or 3 or 10) when my mind wanders, I experience greater freedom to redirect my mind and am more likely to start and restart because that’s what it takes to succeed. Perfection is certainly attractive and definitely unattainable. Persistent redirecting allows us to recenter our thoughts and to stay our course!
Ayurveda’s compassionate perspective allows us to intend, to direct our mind at our desire. An intention allows us to explore our deepest desires and to manifest them as they reveal themselves to us without the shame that seems to accompany a failed resolution.
For example, a few years back, I set the intention to perform the daily ritual of tongue scraping before doing anything else in the morning. The purpose is to scrape off the ama (toxins) that have settled there overnight as the body has worked to digest and to eliminate the days’ intake. Scraping off (with a spoon or tongue scraper) before ingesting anything helps the mind/body rid itself of the toxins. Brushing pushes that ama back into the tongue where scraping pulls it off and then we rinse it away.
But it took months before I remembered daily to scrape before drinking or eating anything. And it still happens occasionally that I will begin my day having forgotten to scrape my tongue. I have learned to repeat my yoga teacher Judith Lasater’s phrase, “How human of me” and then reset my intention so that I will pick up the scraper tomorrow morning.
The intention carries us farther than a resolution which seems fraught with judgment and failure. An intention acts as our anchor and pulls us back to center, away from the distractions, allowing us to carry out the direction that we set for ourselves again and again.
Why not set yourself up for success in 2013? Set an intention. Direct your mind to what you want to do or be or feel. You will have repeated occasions to experience success. And you will have repeated occasions to say, “how human of me” and then step one foot in front of the other on your journey.
Would you like some help setting an intention for 2013? I’m doing a workshop “LIving with Intention: the Opportunity of the New Year” at Just Breathe Yoga in Crest Hill IL on Friday January 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Here’s the info to register. You can contact me with your questions.
Just Breathe Yoga
20660 Caton Farm Road Unit C
Crest Hill, IL
To help you formulate your own intentions, here are examples of intentions that I set daily:
– As I prepare a meal, I set an intention to pour into the food my love for those for whom I’m preparing the meal.
–I set an intention to listen without judgment, criticism or an agenda. To be truthful, listening with judgment or an agenda is NOT listening. I discovered this along the way and modified my intention to be “listen.”
–Massage dosha-balancing oil into my skin before a shower.
–Eat a lighter meal at the end of the day.
–Drink warm and room temperature liquids instead of cold.
–Pause throughout the day to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
–Pause before eating to thank those who grew and prepared the food.
–Speak lovingly to my children and husband.
Keep in mind that I set and re-set many of these intentions throughout my day; that I find that I have drifted away from an intention and restate it so that I center myself once again. It’s work. You’re worth the work!
All the best always!