new year, new you?

I have been told that New Year's resolutions are a way to start off the year with a change for the better. Instead, for as long as I can remember, I have seen it as a time of self-loathing ("I am going to lose 10 pounds because I am overweight" or "I will stop eating sweets because I am unhealthy"). Picking a resolution always puts me in a place of criticism. I look at myself and find the negative aspects that need to be changed. I read on BBC that when we focus on a weight goal or a job concern for the new year it can create a negative self-image. Additionally, if the plans fail, it can trigger feelings of failure. This can in turn lead to hopelessness, low self-esteem, and perhaps mild depression. What the BBC says is that, "We chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and set unrealistic goals to change our behaviour, so it's not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started". I completely agree. 

So, enough about that, I want to move on to what I do plan on doing in this new year! I received an email from my yoga instructor recently that got me excited for what can become in 2014. She spoke about the sanskrit word, Sankalpa. Kalpa = vow, San= connection with your highest truth. The word is understood to mean your intentions or resolves. It is about looking into the future and asking yourself what specific things need to happen to move you forward towards life goals. 

Instead of giving up something, or fixing myself, it is an opportunity to focus on what I want to bring into my life. This is what I plan on doing this year.
Here are the 10 "rules" my instructor suggested to apply when I have chosen my Sankalpa:

  • It’s an internal vow, do not share with anyone. Write it down and keep it - a promise to yourself is sacred
  • It must be written in the present tense and affirmative - I am, not I want
  • Keep it short and simple
  • Must be joyous in essence
  • Not what you want, but why. If you got “x”, what would that bring?
  • Align with your dharma - your highest potential, what your soul is meant to be
  • It can take one of two forms: either your true nature or an intention/goal
  • Just set one and keep it until it is achieved
  • Repeat to yourself 3 times in morning and night
  • Let go - we cannot receive until we let go of expectations