Your Best New Year’s Resolution:
DON’T MAKE ANY!
by Sue Cushing, RCY Yoga Teacher
2019 New Year’s Resolutions:
- No more sugar, coffee, alcohol, carbohydrates, meat, dairy, or gluten (you are what you eat)
- Wake up at 5:30 am on weekdays to meditate (good yogis get up early to clear the mind)
- Wake up at 6:30 am on weekends to meditate (extra sleep on weekends)
- Work out after mediation (and don’t skip abs)
- Go to yoga (and nail that chaturanga)
- Greet each and every day, and each and every person, with profound delight (fake it ‘till you make it)
- Don’t yell at the kids (they are such a gift)
- Be present (listen, like, really and don’t roll your eyes)
- Make the bed every day (seriously, it takes two minutes)
- Read two books a month (one of Oprah’s choosing, one either historical non-fiction, biography or self-improvement)
- Volunteer every week (rotating children’s, health, homeless and environment-based organizations)
Whew! Did we cover it all? You are going to take on this year like a bride-to-be at a Filene’s Basement bridal gown sale: full of hope, inspiration and motivation…only to trip on a piece of tulle, land on your face and watch the gowns disappear, one by one, just out of your grasp. You had such good intentions and a plan. What happened??
I love January 1. I like to reflect on the previous year. Most often I’m happy it happened, but happy it is done and looking forward to the next 365 days as a fresh start — and getting it right this time. It is a good time to make a list; hence the Resolutions.
Clearly the list above is poking fun at what really are well meaning ideas. Improving on ourselves is natural; but, if even half of those things are on your resolution list, most of us will be under the bed covers you didn’t make, binge watching old episodes of Friends, with a triple-cafe mocha and People magazine by January 5th. Let us take a look at what went wrong and figure out how we can take this 4,000-year-old tradition (thank you Babylonians) of blazing new year trails and make it work for you.
- Keep it bite-sized! I don’t know if you even got past the third line up in that list – so many limitations, exceptions, and explanations. Remember our sacred yoga text, the Sutras? The Sutras are short thoughts, threads if you will, on approaching life according to yoga philosophy. The first Sutra translates to: “And now begins the study of yoga.” It is succinct and calls you to action. Think of this in terms of the first resolution above; wow! that is a whole lot of food categories to cut out. All sugar? Caffeinated and decaffeinated? Sheep and cow dairy? What are you actually going to eat instead? I’m hungry and cranky just thinking about it. Make it a Sutra instead: “Limit red meat to one time per week for 2 months”. Short, to the point and sets parameters. Once you have digested that (get it??), you can assess your commitment.
- Change takes time! Aim for sustainability. Just like your undesirable behaviors/habits took time to develop, undoing them or adding something new is also going to take time. Meditating can be a great way to create some mental space and physical rest, but believe it or not, it really takes a lot of practice! If you aren’t a morning person, waking up to get out of bed and sit and close your eyes again probably is not going to bring you enlightenment. Start small; maybe 5 minutes of a guided meditation two times during the week and once on the weekend. Once you get comfortable, add on or not. (Note: Many of us come to yoga to balance out the pervasiveness of technology, but there actually are some great on-line apps for helping with mediation if a class doesn’t fit your schedule. But try RCY’s mediation workshops too!)
- Be flexible. Throw out the idea of “breaking your resolution”. Pull from yoga on this one: intention, observation and the process is more important than beating yourself if you didn’t reach your goals. I used to hate making my bed. I don’t know why, I just did. But when I invested in some new bedding, I found I hated NOT making the bed. The effort and expense of new sheets was enough to change my perspective (I still take Sundays off though!) So remember there is more than one way to honor your resolutions.
You probably know or have read many of these thoughts before. But it’s good to hear them again as we look to 2019. Above all, remember you have the power within you to change – like anything it just takes practice.