Making a resolution? Stating a new intention? Changing some habits? Establishing goals? Reset. Start over. Wipe the slate clean. The new year is a great opportunity for all of these things. For those in need of an official “starting line”, now is your time. However, if you’re like me, adopting change in conjunction with a specific date or event is more likely to create anxiety rather than motivation.
I’ve learned as a student and a teacher that each time I arrive on my mat is a brand new experience. It is a new opportunity to check in not only with my physical body (am I tired, tense, achey…or energized, loose, yielding?), but also with my emotional and mental states (am I distracted, sad, discouraged…or focused, happy, enthusiastic?). It is an opportunity, despite any or all of these feelings, to detach from them. To surrender…to withdraw…to abandon judgement…to accept what I see before me for what it is, in that moment, because that is all I have. Sometimes I know exactly what I stand to face when I step on the mat, other times I’m caught by surprise, for better or for worse. But I strive to bring the best version of myself to my practice each and every time, incorporating what I know about the first two yamas–ahimsa (nonviolence and compassion) and satya (truthfulness and sincerity) of the yoga sutras to help guide me. While doing so, I seek the same off the mat.
I often use this philosophy while teaching, especially the last several days, to encourage students to view change as something that can be embraced at any time. We don’t need a special date on the calendar to tell us it’s time to be our best selves. Just as Thanksgiving shouldn’t be the only day we’re reminded to be grateful, or Independence Day the only day we appreciate our freedom, New Year’s Day is one in 365 to foster positive change. Simplified even further, every breath can be a catalyst for change, and we take roughly twenty thousand of those every day. Each breath invites the body to change…to renew, to refresh and to re-energize down to a cellular level. If that doesn’t symbolize nearly constant opportunity, I’m not sure what does.
By all means, embrace positivity at the start of 2016, and this will mean something different for everyone. But at the same time allow flexibility, ease and acceptance that there is possibility in each and every day of the year. One day a year is a nice chance to turn over a new leaf. 365 days a year to do that is even better. Twenty thousand chances in a day? I like those odds best. Live with purpose. Speak with kindness. Act with authenticity. Breathe with intention.