It's that time of year again, the time of year when I write a blog post about not making New Year's Resolutions. I know this is not my first, and I'm sure it won't be my last. But this year, although late to the party, I just saw comedian Robyn Schall's 2020 goal list, as she discovered it in November. Remember January 1st 2020? The dreams you might have had for the coming year? The things you had planned, maybe vacations booked, and how everything changed with COVID-19? It's sometimes helpful to laugh at yourself, and Robyn laughing at herself made some of my cancelled plans feel trivial.
When we make to do lists for ourselves we are making a list of things that we might not be able to accomplish, sometimes for reasons outside of our control. It's not a bad thing to make a list of things to do, but perhaps at the start of the year we can dream bigger.
The yogic practice is to set intentions, or find your sankalpa. I love this word and the deeper meanings connected to it. It's more than just a resolution, but also means "purpose", "conviction", "desire", or "notion formed in the mind or heart". It's not just about the intention, but also the impact. It's very often referring to you and your inner life, and there is a solemnity about it. Your sankalpa wouldn't be to get up early and go to the gym. It might be to treat your body with respect and care for it. That might result in you going to the gym, but it might not — you can definitely go to the gym and abuse your body. The intention is the important piece. Sometimes treating your body well means drinking a cup of tea and reading a book. Sometimes it means eating some chocolate. It might mean that you should stop weighing yourself.
Your New Year's Resolution might be to travel more. But your sankalpa could be to expand your mind. That might mean travelling (when we are able). But it might mean learning a new language. It could mean to be in nature. You could expand your mind with a book on a subject that pushes your worldview wide open. It might even mean to learn more about where you are right now and the people immediately around you.
New Year's Resolution: spend more time with Grandma. Sankalpa: be loving. When you nurture the heart's desire, the to do list can be many different things, and isn't arduous or impossible to achieve. I can be more loving of my children even when I can't travel to see them. It's me who changes, even if the to do list can't be accomplished.
A sankalpa that I have is to be more present. I hope that you are able to join me in that as well this year.
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