A recipe for New Year resolutions that last
A new year is a new beginning…and new beginnings make us want to be better, to be happier, to do more and to live more. And so it is every year: we all know the story of the promises we make ourselves, which somehow never last. As soon as the energy of the beginning fades, so does our enthusiasm and attention towards those resolutions.
It’s the same for all new beginnings: a new year, new job, new home, new relationship. Life seems so much more alive, suddenly everything seems possible and you can see a much better and happier version of yourself. Time passes and neither the year, the job, the home nor the relationship, are new anymore. And so your enthusiasm and excitement is dampened.
What is so special about this energy of the beginning? It is a moment when our routine is broken and we become aware of ourselves and our life as it is. When we are stuck in routine, we are stuck in patterns that do not allow us to see opportunities or find the enthusiasm or energy to follow our dreams. In reality, life continuously presents us with possibilities to grow, to learn and to be happy, but often we become blind to them, stuck in limiting mental patterns and preconceived ideas about ourselves and the world we live in. We are so much bigger than we believe, and the moment of a new beginning reminds us of that and inspires us to discover it.
A Tantric saying goes: A Tantric always stay in the beginning. That does not mean we constantly start new things to have eyes full of optimism and possibility. It means the energy of the beginning has certain characteristics and conditions that we can cultivate to stay with that perspective and way of relating to life. Analogically speaking, it is like living life as though we are newly in love. When we start something new, whether it is a relationship or project, we give it plenty of attention. We do not yet know what to expect, so we pay attention full of wonder and curiosity – how will this unfold? It makes life mysterious and enchanting and gives us the feeling that anything is possible. In reality, life did not change much – what changed is the way we look at it. You could say that being always in the beginning is a certain way to look at your life.
A key point here is that we can’t actually stay in the energy of the beginning – which is why our new year resolutions rarely last. But we can renew that perspective over and over, without having to wait for favourable outer conditions or reminders. Thus, we stay in what could seem an endless beginning.
Our mental patterns are a sort of dust in the machinery that eventually covers our new eyes and makes us return to our habits.
Characteristics of a beginning
- We look at things seeing possibility rather than limitation and are therefore less judgemental and preconceived in our approach to them. Practice looking at things with new eyes, as if you never saw them before. What you can discover will amaze you. This includes yourself.
- We are really present and attentive. Because we don’t yet think we know that person or situation we are more present and attentive to learn and discover – this brings a special quality to our experience and gives it a special glow. It makes us feel more in touch with life and ourselves.
- It fills us with joy of living and optimism and make us feel fresh and full of energy.
Creating conditions for living a constant beginning
- Cultivate a fresh perspective. Every time you find yourself making a habitual judgement, stop and ask yourself if there are other ways of looking at the situation. Make it a game where you even try the complete opposite perspective of your usual one.
- Meditation and concentration techniques are wonderful ways to train your ability to be present and attentive. Practice this not only when you are in meditation, but aim to bring that increased awareness with you into every part of your daily life. Try setting an alarm at regular intervals to help you remember to stop and become aware.
- Do things on a regular basis that make you feel regenerated and happy. The more surplus you have, the more you resonate with the energy of the beginning. Yoga and time in nature are great options.
- Anything that ‘de-clutters’ your system and brings you to a state of purity and balance. This includes diet, different detoxes and yoga and meditation to detox you at an energetic, emotional and mental level.
The last essential key worth mentioning is willpower. Willpower is needed for us to align ourselves with our dreams and aspirations. And it is needed in order to return again and again to the moment of beginning at will. Lack of willpower is most often what makes us not keep the promises we make and not stick with our resolutions.
Willpower is something that can be trained, however small it might be to begin with and it is expressed as an ability to keep the promises you make yourself. Begin training your willpower by making yourself a small promise – for instance that you will do five sun salutations every morning for one week. And then make sure you keep it! Every time you break a promise you weaken your willpower, so begin with small tasks.
Every time you keep a promise, your willpower grows and you can make the next one a little bigger.
Good willpower is one of the conditions to stay in a continuous process of inner growth. And when we continuously grow and learn we are continuously new. And when we are always new we are always in the beginning.
By Maria Porsfett of Tara Yoga Centre (tarayogacentre.co.uk) | Om Yoga Magazine