So many changes in the last decade…births, deaths, a new career, a new outlook. Going forward into a new year, not to mention a new decade, resolutions are made and quickly broken. But I’ve learned, and relearned, that it’s not about resolutions but has everything to do with intention.
What’s the difference? A resolution (at least in my line of work) is often to lose 10 pounds, exercise 5 times a week, pack a healthy lunch for work (and eat it). A resolution is black and white, right or wrong, stuck to or fallen from. A resolution is a big ask because there’s no in-between. And when you slip – and we all do – you start judging yourself. You start listening to that negative voice that tells you that you couldn’t do it anyways, that you’re not disciplined enough, just not enough.
An intention is so much happier at it’s base. Intentions are about feeling joy, expressing gratitude, finding peace. Touchy-feely-yoga stuff. But actually intentions are just resolutions packaged up with much happier wrapping paper. A resolution to lose 10 pounds or to exercise more often is really an intention to live a more healthy life. Packing a lunch for the office? Actually an intention to be more mindful, about what I put into my body and how I spend my money.
A shift to intention will always move you forward because it lies in the grey between the black and white. If you keep your intention clear and present, then your choices will most often reflect that. And when they don’t, you reset that intention, knowing that you’re still walking through the grey haze. And with practice, and patience, you end up living your intention without it even announcing itself.
At the beginning of most yoga classes I teach, I ask the students to set an intention – to create a sankalpa or to bring their own sankalpa to mind. A sankalpa is a heartfelt desire – and if we focus our minds, yogic tradition teaches that we already have within us what we need to fullfill that. The yoga practice teaches us to focus our minds on that, and if we fall out, we come back to the practice and remind ourselves again.
As we move forward into this year, keep in mind your intention. Know that the path towards it will not be linear, and chances are it won’t always be pretty. But in every new day, come back to your intention, come back to whatever your practice looks like, and move through the fog by following your own light.
Be kind to yourself, direct your energy to what brings you closer to your sankalpa, and have a happy year – and a happy decade ahead on your path.