Over my years of residency in Richmond, Ma. (population, 1,475), I have joined, un-joined, and re-joined my local gym a record number of times. If I do rejoin as planned this first week of January, I will be part of the wave of an eager 12% of new gym memberships in the country, who join during the first, post-New Year blush of commitment! Data tells us that the second week in January is the biggest week in the year for gyms and athletic clubs, while an unfortunate 80% of those New Year’s Resolution-Folks will drop off by the second week in February. Gyms typically sell membership with the expectation that a mere 18% of people use them. What is up with that, America?
Bah-humbug and be gone with New Year’s resolutions, I say. Let’s find a better way to utilize this turn of the year to recommit to ourselves, to realign our actions with our intentions.
I come and go to the gym seasonally and would rather walk, hike or bike as weather allows. Yet my wavering and wafting membership does reflect my ambivalence regarding self-care in general and gym membership in specific, which registers at either 220% or 1.5%.
How can we best maximize our commitment to ourselves at this auspicious turn of the year? How can we support our commitment to wellness and practice, with more successful steadiness?
New Year’s Resolutions seem so ineffectively American, don’t they? Goal-orientated, focused only on will, they rely on our mind’s forcefulness, and hover, at times, on almost-mean-spiritedness. I’m going to do this, damn it! Get outta my way—I’m off to the gym. Who are we even talking to?
Bottom line: resolutions don’t most effectively support us in aligning our actions with our intentions.
Another, more helpful and organic paradigm of change is the yogic practice of intentionality, sankalpa, which bypasses the busy, wacky mind. It starts, as yoga does, from inside, out, with the heart; it gives the heart first-dibs on intention, rather than the greedy mind which jumps into the fray and mucks around so pridefully.
Here’s a simple practice—check this out:
Breathe and relax.
Sit quietly for a few moments.
Notice where your body
touches against the chair.
Direct your breath right there.
Like a doorway,
Enter into those sensations.
relax into the rhythm of your breath.
From this place of self,
consider the turn of this new year.
What are you hoping for,
your practices, your wellness, your self-connection?
What are you wanting,
You with you?
If you could see yourself moving forward
with more balance and alignment,
what would be alive in you,
what would be
reestablished in you?
See it happening.
Feel it unfolding.
And now consider,
what is one action you can take
just one thing,
that you can do,
just for today,
to support your bigger intention?
How will you give
Invite your will,
Invite your mind,
Beginning with our hearts and our internal knowing, and building, from inside, out, from heart then mind, we begin layering behavior to support our own sense of dharma, or right purpose. Habitually we get so way-laid, so aggressively committed to the push of our own will. The practice of sankalpa, yogic intentionality, supports realignment, rebalance, recalibration of body, mind, and spirit.
Dear friends, let’s open to the grace of this new year with gratitude, with possibility, and with hope.
Let us together intend to continue changing our brain, our bodies, and our behavior. We can live the way we choose.
One breath, one step, one bite at a time—may we open to this new year with open hearts.
May possibilities unfold with ease and grace.
May we allow our true selves to emerge.
Happy New Year, dear reader-people-folk. As always, please keep me posted as to the unfoldment of your journey. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.