New Year’s Thoughts
My birthday falls at the end of the year so I probably find myself ‘evaluating’ the significance of the year ending a bit more than most.
- I have started this year by vowing never again to have New Year’s resolutions (okay, maybe that declaration itself IS my last New Year’s resolution!)
Resolutions are usually negative – and usually about losing, stopping or depriving ourselves. I find that as a result they are almost always forgotten, abandoned and sabotaged before the month has even ended. I think they can even prevent us from doing things, rather than encourage us – as we wait until we have achieved a thinner, fitter, richer, smarter, ‘better’ version of ourselves before doing something we want …
- I hope instead to shift my perspective and try to see myself, and everything and everyone around me as fluid and always in constant transformation.
Feelings are fluid, thoughts are fluid. Who I am in the world is fluid each moment. It is not something that starts and stops. It isn’t something to set goals against or try to achieve.
- I want to try and take the ideas I try to embody in yoga; of being in the present and practice continuity – and see my life through those aspects too.
The concepts that the yoga is not in the effort or the outcome – but in the practice itself and that focusing on the continuity in each pose – the stillness and presence of the asana is what is important.
I think that bringing this to everyday life will mean that I will use my energy differently.
I believe that if I am not focused on the effort or outcome of life – but on the present and the ‘practice’ - that I can use my energy being positive and really engaged - every day in every encounter.
I think that bringing the ideas of presence and continuity to everyday life will also mean that the big scary things will enter into the rhythm of life, to the ebb and flow, which should make them not nearly so terrifying. (The terrifying comes in the fear of a failed outcome in the future, right?)
I think it will also mean that there will be lots and lots of little moments of joy and, I believe, a lingering sense of contentment.
Two years ago on my birthday my youngest brother died suddenly, leaving me devastated with sadness and grief. It will never be right, it will never be fair – it will never be explainable in any way that I will accept. But I have taken that terrible loss as a reminder that today is enough and today I am enough and focusing on discontent leads to discontent – not happiness and never contentment.
This leads me to thoughts on the concept of ‘Santosha’ (contentment) – from the Yoga Sutras. Judith Lasater wrote a wonderful thought piece on it for the November 2017 Yoga Journal, US in which she explores the realization that Santosha itself is a practice – and something we live – not a feeling we chase.
She writes that contentment is not the same as happiness - and that contentment is actually the willingness to "...accept both your happiness and your lack of it at any given moment". And she advocates that we stay actively present in those times of discontent as well - and see what arises within us, without judgement.
So for 2018, that is my hope. To practice life - staying present and nonjudgmental and within that - appreciating the continuity - of both happiness and contentment.
I have to finish on a couple of quotes, because so many people wiser than me have said it better – this time I promise to hear them :)
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. “ - Mahatma Gandhi
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” - Omar Khayyam
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” - Dalai Lama