I used to love New Year’s Eve. It was chance to put the challenges of the past year behind me and recommence life with renewed energy and commitment. After only a few weeks though, the bleakness of January never failed to catch up with me and I found myself with the same stories I told myself from the past years. New year, old me.
A few decades later, and I no longer relic in setting resolutions that seem to inevitably fail (though my resolution in 1997 stuck – flossing teeth every day has been life changing!). Nowadays, I get excited about spending the few days before and after January 1 cleaning out closets and desks, reflecting on the ups and downs over the year, and arriving at a more refined understanding of which direction my path is heading. These days I choose intention over resolution.
You see, resolutions state an outward determination, the end goal is what matters. Resolutions are independent of the bhav, or the mood, that is inherent while ‘getting there’, wherever ‘there’ is. An intention, or sankalpa, is different in that there is an inner awareness that acts both as seed idea behind change, as well as the continual nourishment of the seed as it transforms into action. Intention is embedded into the idea, the journey and the destination. Seeds can be watered every day, even every moment, by resetting that intention through bhavantu (the antu means, may it be so because I deem it to be so; it is an imperative). Through a resolve to make it so, the intention is integrated into all actions, which is the catalyst that fosters lasting change.
Intention setting is like gardening; it is as much about growing something new as it is about weeding. In order for a new plant to grow, other energies/ideas/projects need to go into hibernation or be selectively groomed out of the way to make space for the new seedling. Given the right conditions, this seedling can grow, prosper, and give life to other species; it becomes a part of a wider ecosystem in its own right.
Intention setting versus resolution also implies a different understanding of control. In the big scheme of things, each of us has far less control than we like to admit. A resolution implies that despite external factors, the ‘doer’ will use sheer determination to reach the end goal. An intention requires being present to the bigger picture, and while acknowledging obstacles and even changing course, rather than plowing down anything in the way of sucess, an inner resolve is alight, less attached to the end goal as staying with the journey.
Afterall, we humans are just earthlings, like ants and anteaters. The ants, doing the best they can to collect food, make anthills and protect their queen, but at the end of the day relinquish control to a human, or an anteater who might wander by and take out the whole army without a moment’s notice. Similarly, whether the planet rebels through the many years of mistreatment, or whether we self-implode as a species first, our time in this body, in this life, is limited. We each have a path, partly determined for us through past karma (ancestry, genetics, etc), partly carved out through effortful intention and desire. The first step is to pay attention. We need to be able to see the path, and orient to it to understand its limitation and potential; the next step is to become clear about directionality. When these two aspects work together, intentions are ready to be set.
As I better understand and accept my own journey with each passing year, my expectations become more reasonable and clear, and my gratitude grows. I become more adept at managing the awareness of the little control that I actually have; I’m better able to respond to longing and loss.
As long as we are in our human form, the mind will constantly fluctuate, between better and worse, up and down, past and future. The goal of yoga is to find the ‘third space’, the place without fluctuation, of balance; the place of presence in the here and now.
Please come to my workshop on January 13th at Indaba Yoga Studio, called The Power of Three, where we will explore this ‘third space’ and the potency of using triangulation as a tool to enhance dimensionality; physically through a movement practice, as well as mentally, to create a space for observation and enhanced awareness. For other events, workshops and retreats, follow this link to my fuller schedule.
Blessings to you now, in resolving your past, and in your journey to the known, and unknown spaces of the future.
Be love, Serve all.