Thankfully, we are halfway through January now and a lot of the New Year’s Resolution dust has settled. I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions; over the years I’ve dipped in and swiftly dipped out of them time and time again. I think my issue is with the premise; this idea that a slate is wiped clean with the chime of a midnight bell and we must spend the next days/weeks/months/(year?) trying not to muddy it. I believe in effort when effort is necessary and change when change is necessary. I also believe in the importance of having the room to fail, and fail spectacularly at times. A failed diet in the middle of January is not a reason to abandon the plan for the rest of the year, nor is it a stick to beat yourself with. Naturally, I am a person of extremes; I understand total commitment and I understand absolute failure. Over the years, yoga has taught me that there is a whole spectrum of effort between these two extremes. In class, when we practice Savasana I try to encourage people to commit to the stillness in the same way that they committed to the physical movement of the other asana.
As we start into a new year, I look to what I have learned through my yoga practice to guide me towards being a better me than I was yesterday, or last year.
- Doing is not the only way to move forwards. There is power in not doing, of purposely choosing inaction or observation over action for action’s sake. Often, not doing allows us the opportunity to take a helicopter view of our situation, to gain perspective and give ourselves room to grow.
- We must be able to adapt. Commitment to a goal is admirable; commitment to a method can be immature. Compromise can take us through a rough patch in our journey where we may otherwise fall.
- Falling is ok! Samuel Beckett (not sure he was a yogi, but regardless;) said it best: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” To paraphrase someone else wildly more inspirational than me; it’s not about the fall, it’s about the rise and what you learn on the way.
- Some days your best might feel like a fraction of your best on a previous day. Yesterday, perhaps your lunge was wide, your tree was tall and your squat was deeper than any human emotion. Today, even the simplest action may feel difficult- that doesn’t mean that your practice is worth any less or that you shouldn’t bother, or any other such judgement that we place on ourselves. If your best is 30%, then give 100% of that 30%.
- There is something to be gained from the smallest of actions and lessons to be learned in the smallest of tasks. As the saying goes, there are no boring tasks, just boring people. Mindfulness in tiny moments can have huge power.
In an asana, a fraction of an inch in the placement of a foot can cause a change within the whole posture. A small change in attitude can have huge effect and that effect has the power to grow.
You don’t have to have it all figured out yet. You don’t have to have it figured out by the end of January, you might not even figure it out this year AND THAT IS OKAY, TOO. Here is what I wish for you for 2020: Patience, happiness, integrity, tolerance, perseverance and love. These things and yoga- definitely lots of yoga.
Be kind to yourself.