New Year’s always start off with great hype and optimism. At least for me they do. Exercise more, eat healthier, read more etc etc. The list sounds all too familiar, thanks to the over-saturation of New Year’s resolutions in social media over the last few years. Self-improvement websites are all the rage at this time of year with 50 New Year’s Resolutions and How To Keep Them or New Year’s Resolutions You Should Never Make, making headlines.
On top of this, marketing companies have jumped on this bandwagon and started bombarding us with New Year sales, to help us keep those said New Year’s resolutions. As cynical as it may seem, discounts on yoga passes, offers on cleanses or sales on gratitude journals are not really going to help us keep those resolutions for the next 364 days of the year.
I too went through a phase where I’d make these absurd resolutions – pretty much setting myself up to fail the second the ideas formed in my head. ‘I’ll walk up Mt Coot-tha EVERY single day‘ she said. Yeah right. The year would be shaped a bit like a series of parabola’s put together – a week where I would walk up Mt Coot-tha everyday, then a week of doing nothing, then a week of walking, then a week of nothing… you get the pattern. For someone who’s not naturally good at implementing new habits or routines, the prospect of doing multiple new things 365 days of the year looked pretty grim.
But then, like many other things in my life, I looked at it from a different perspective. What if I didn’t think of it as a New Year, but a New Day? If I didn’t go on that walk one day, there was no need to beat myself up about it, but realise that tomorrow was a NEW day, a new chance at picking myself up again. I was given a whole new set of 24 hours to live again! And when I began to look at things like this, the year didn’t look 365 days looong, but more like 365 chances at getting 24 hours again!
An important part of a New Day is setting an intention, or sankalpa, as it is called in Sanskrit. A sankalpa is a strong mental creative determination or affirmation. Sacinandana Swami, a modern day meditation practitioner, writes extensively about sankalpa in one of his newsletters. He once asked his Ayurvedic doctor about his maintenance plan, after a period of intense treatment at an Ayurvedic clinic. His doctor replied:
“The most important thing is a strong sankalpa – an inner resolve. All the best medicine and therapy in the world would be ineffective without such a commitment. On the other hand, with such a sankalpa you would almost not need anything else”
It was such a nice way to begin each day – with a strong inner resolve – something I could plan new for each day, rather than be daunted by the task of having to do it every day for 1 year. And what gave each day more strength was the very nature of this inner resolve. The more I read about sankalpa, the more I was drawn to it’s spiritual and mystical nature – qualities which contributed to its strength.
We can use sankalpas to help frame our day, or even the very activity we are concentrating on – for as little or big as the task is. It’s a powerful method of setting your intention, and cultivating a strong inner resolve. So don’t worry if you haven’t been able to catch up with your new year resolutions – there is a new day waiting ahead 🙂