So here we are, another New Year! As I've grown older the meaning of this time of year has changed. When I was young it was all about fun (parties) and maybe some random new years resolutions! Now as the calendar flips on to another set of numbers and dates I sit and wonder what the next year will bring? I wonder what I will do to continue to grow and fulfill my purpose in this life of mine. I think many of us experience some version of this, some of us even pick and set those yearly resolutions. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to set a resolution that would really help accomplish what it is we want or need most? Well, there is!
Since Yoga & Ayurveda have become such an integral part of my journey through this life, when I really want or need to do some work on setting goals or intentions and taking the steps to accomplish them, I turn to my practice and utilize the teachings I've received to guide me. There are many translations of the word yoga one of them is "to attain what was previously unattainable", interesting right?! With that said here are a few elements of practice that help us set clear and attainable goals;
Svadhyaya (Self Inquiry) - This is one of the Niyamas, and it plays a major part in a personal yoga practice. Before you dive head first into the deep end of 2016 take a moment to pause, and reflect on the past year. Take note of your own personal growth, your adhikara (evolution) that is a result of your own personal experiences. Sit quietly and just take a moment to go over some of the highlights and even some of the darker moments, do this without dwelling on things or re-telling yourself the story. Do this with the intention of gleaning wisdom from your journey. By taking a moment to acknowledge what we've learned we can then use this information to move more skillfully through the next 365 days.
Meditation - There are many different types and approaches to meditation. If you are somewhat new to yoga chances are you are also new to mediation, although some people learn meditation or mindfulness practices before ever attending an asana class. One way to practice is by focusing the mind on a particular stream of thought or on a question. You would do this practice by finding a quiet place to be, then take a moment to first clear the mind of distractions, take some deep cleansing breaths and then smooth out the flow of breath to an even, effortless flow. After a few minutes of focusing your mind on the breath, when the mind is calm and clear, ask yourself "What do I desire the most in the new year?" or any other question that get's your stream of thought moving on what your goals might be. We continue following this stream of thought until we come to our answer. It may take a few times to come up with something that truly resonates with you as the right response. Try to narrow it down to one thing for now.
Sankalpa (A deeply rooted intention) - You could even see this as a plan or strategy to achieve something specific. This is the yogic way of picking/setting "resolutions". Once you know what it is you desire in the new year you need to set an intention that put's you on the path to achieving it. As you begin to frame your sankalpa there are a few things to remember;
I read something once "Deep thought must be accompanied by action". Just like the most useful tool if you don't use it, then it can't work for you. In other words in order to achieve anything there is effort required. Once you've set your sankalpa you can't just set it aside and expect anything to come of it, you must work with it.
This approach to intention setting or goal setting of course is not limited to just this time of year. You can use these practices at any time along your journey to continue reaching the milestones that bring you towards your purpose in life.