Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year?
If you are among the 62% of Americans who make resolutions - congratulations, just making the resolution renders you 10 times more likely to achieve your goal. [Statistics from Statistic Brain.]
Still making progress on your resolution? Congratulations, you are among the 28% who are still going. What is your resolution? To what do you attribute your success in staying the course? Share your insight in a comment and you'll help and encourage the 2-300 visitors to this site every day!
Whether you've long since thrown in the towel or you remain focused, we're nearly mid-year and it's a good time to re-evaluate. There's a good chance you've faced some obstacles in the last five and a half months and perhaps you've lost a little steam. Whether you abandoned ship or are drifting in the waters of progress, now is a good time to re-visit your resolve, adjust and re-focus.
Resolve can go one of two ways: towards integrity and becoming more yourself or towards reinforcing old patterns and staying stuck. I'm not a linguist, but the way I see it "resolve" can mean that you're identifying component parts, root causes and letting go what doesn't fit and nurturing what you want more of - or it can mean to "solve" again... and again... and again. Like Groundhog Day. Which is how too many resolutions go.
The Oxford Dictionary identifies the origin of the word this way: "from Latinresolvere, from re- (expressing intensive force) + solvere 'loosen'." Presumably this means we're loosening the bonds that make a complex object out of component parts. Yoga teaches that through our practice of the Yama and Niyama, the Asana (poses), Pranayama (breath observation), and meditation (Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) we are seeking to loosen our grip on and association with the component parts of our habits and personalities that keep us from expressing our true selves. We are letting go more than hanging on. Strength comes as we let go of habits and actions that sap it. Flexibility comes as we loosen our grip on habits of mind and body that keep us and our muscles stuck. Like the sculptor freeing the art from the block of stone, practice allows us to shed what we no longer need rather than run after what we think we do need.
What was your resolution? Did you put a great deal of contemplation into its formulation or was it more aspirational? How are you doing with it? What's working? What hasn't worked?
Where were you trying to squash down a natural tendency or a habit you don't like rather than airing it out, loosening up around it, so you could observe how you interact with it- how it changes how you feel, when it likes to assert itself and when you seem magically impervious to it?
Consider relating to your resolution as a practice: acknowledge what it is you'd like to transform without trying to shame it or squash it. Listen to it. Meet it on the mat every day. Ask it what it needs or what it thinks it has to offer you. Find a way to admire it: it once was the very best way you knew to relate to those needs. But see if there's a new a way to address what it does in your life. Consider relating to these habits as you would a pair of shoes: they may be cute or functional, they may even be your favorite ones, but they wear out at some point. You can find new shoes, maybe even an upgrade.
Make part of your re-invigoration strategy meeting yourself on the mat every day. Bring your tea or coffee and maybe your journal. This could be fitness time, as in a vigorous yoga practice, or in addition to class or gym time. Pick a pose to do every day and see how you change over time. The goal with this pose isn't to monitor how flexible you can get your hamstrings, but to have the pose - whether it's Downward Facing Dog or Warrior I or Mountain or Sukhasana or Titibasana (please, no photos! especially in this pose! why was that SO popular last year?!?) - act as your constant in an experiment where the variable is your mind. If you meet yourself every day in the same pose - maybe among many others, but at least this one - you'll notice patterns of mind that are the real component parts of your habits. Your resistance to getting on the mat. How you relate to illness or wellness or injury or busyness. How you relate to lateness. The point is your breath and your mind: observing the mental chatter.
If you're looking for a way to re-invigorate your yoga practice or your fitness routine this weekend, you can still reserve a spot in the Sun Salutation Workshop, Saturday, May 17th from 1-4pm at Oriental Medical Arts in Albuquerque, NM. A great way to reconnect to your resolutions, hopes and dreams, to re-engage and re-commit to practice and to expand your skills and knowledge. See you there!