So it’s already the New Year in a couple of weeks. Wow, 2015 did go fast! Every year as we approach a New Year, it fills us with Hope – hope that we will be able to overcome our undesirable habit patterns, and that we will be able to live the life that we want. Whether it’s improving our Fitness levels, studying for a new Job, enhancing the quality of our Relationships or just Traveling to somewhere we’ve always wanted to go. The New Year brings the promise of a New Better YOU!
This Hope has given rise to a modern cultural phenomenon – the NEW YEAR RESOLUTION. Wikipedia describes it like this: “A New Year’s resolution is a secular tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.”
Year after year, we take resolutions to make the changes in our life that will empower us to live happily. Every year, we don’t see those resolutions through. In fact, for most of us, our resolutions will not survive January 2015. And yet, some of us will steadfastly hold on to our resolutions and make the Change we desire. The question is, ‘Why so many of us don’t see our Resolutions through?’ There is no doubt that we believe our resolutions are important and the habit changes we aim for are worth the sacrifices we’re prepared to make. (Yoga students on New Year Resolutions)
The answer lies in the Nature of the Mind. Most of us make our resolutions in the Conscious Mind. The conscious mind is like a little child – we’re aware of how our mind is fickle at most times. So you have this situation – on the morn of New Year’s Eve you resolve to wake up in the morning and exercise daily. By the afternoon your enthusiasm for exercise wavers and you convince yourself that actually your resolution should be to study this year. By evening, even that doesn’t seem important enough and you are now considering spending time with your family as worthwhile resolution. This goes on and on – and you never come to any resolution. That’s why I call it the New Year Resolution Circus! That’s what it is. But the problem lies only in the fact that the nature of the conscious mind is such – it wavers. In fact, the benefit of practicing Asanas as described in Patanajali’s Yoga Sutras is ‘Tatho Dvandad Nabhi Ghatah‘ or Asanas are practiced to stop the duality of opposites in the mind – that’s why you are so clear-headed and decisive in your decision-making straight after a yoga class!
So, how do you make a successful New Year Resolution? The secret lies in letting your ‘Sankalp’ (yogic term for deep resolution) settle into your sub-conscious mind. The Sub-conscious mind is a very fertile ground and also very obedient. Once your Sankalp enters the sub-conscious; you can rest assured that you will find the missing Will-Power to make that change! In fact, your life will get moulded in such a way that you will attain your goal. Up to now you were only using your conscious mind – which psychology is telling us is only about 10% of your mind! So, you were trying to achieve your life’s goals – with only 10% of yourself! Why is it important to create goals and work towards them? While the end-result may not be so important that we obsess about it; the process is very important and could make life-altering changes for you! Studies constantly show that the Happiest and most Satisfied people are those who make short-term goals and achieve them.
To enter the sub-conscious and unconscious mind is the realm of meditation. For seeding or harbouring your Resolution in the sub-conscious mind, you need to first state your Sankalp into a short positive sentence and then get in to a Yoga Nidra state so you can seed the Sankalp there. This needs to be done when you are quite relaxed – either just before going to sleep or when you wake up in the morning (Refer to our Audio file on the Yoga Nidra Meditation technique) You can also repeat your Sankalp/ Resolution to yourself couple of times through the day and write it down everyday in your diary. It’s critical that you make it happen for 21 days. That’s the time it takes for a new habit to be formed – or rather for new neuronal connections and pathways to forge in your brain. Once this has been done then it should literally be smooth sailing for the rest of the year! As long as you keep up the good habits of feeding the Sankalp and of course doing the thing you aimed for – be it exercise, meditation, improving relationships, studying, work or travel. Once you’ve committed to the process, then we can truly say that it will be a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!