Happy New Year! There is a newness, a freshness, to the new year, to day one of three hundred and sixty-five. So many opportunities lie before us. So many hopes and dreams. We often begin the year by making plans and resolutions about all the things we will do this year. However, the word “resolution” usually begins with a negative or Self-sabotaging habit we have developed and our pledge to change it. Like quitting smoking, losing weight, etc. We set a goal and imagine how happy we will be when… insert your resolution here. Resolutions fail because of this. Because we mistake the behavior we want to change for who we are, rather than seeing it for what it is. Simply a habit that is not serving you. And because it reinforces the lie that our happiness depends on us getting what we want. And isn’t that what every resolutions goal is? To be happy? Why do you want to quit smoking? Why do you want to lose weight? Because you think it will make you happy. When we break it down and examine our resolutions, they all come down to the same desire – to be happy. Let’s begin instead with the premise that you are already who you need to be in order to become your best Self. That there is not something wrong with you that needs to be changed or fixed. That your happiness does not depend on changing or fixing something about your Self. Our first love and last love, is Self-love. Replace your resolution with a Sankalpa, an intention. Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word; san refers to a connection with the highest truth and kalpa means vow. Therefore, a Sankalpa is a vow or commitment you make to support your highest truth, your highest Self. A profound practice for realizing your heartfelt desires and finding your true Self. Without changing who you are. It is anything that moves you, shakes you up, makes your heart beat, inspires you, and fills you up! What makes you come alive? Now, put aside your beliefs, thoughts, and ideas for a while and listen with an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of pre-conceptions. Be a witness to whatever arises, not a judge. Withdraw from labeling and categorizing the answers. Don’t edit your Self. Simply allow the thought to be a thought. Think out loud. Gain some clarity of the type of energy you wish to bring forward.
Ask yourself “what do I really want?”. It’s okay if the answer that arises at first is more like a typical New Year’s resolution. Try to feel it. What would it feel like? Then work backwards, what does it look like? etc. It takes courage to listen to the heart – be willing to hear the message that arises. Then whatever you hear, be willing to listen to it and sit with it for a while. And then, be willing to respond. For example, let’s say that the first thought that arises is “I want to lose weight”. Keep listening… ask your Self, “how will I feel when I lose weight? What will my life be like? What is the true heartfelt desire here?”. Keep listening… Is it Self-love? Is it physical well-being? Is it the feeling of being accepted? See if you can find a deeper feeling or desire that is asking to be nourished. I want to take care of my body. I love my body. Richard Miller PhD says, “A Sankalpa isn’t a petition or a prayer, it is a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment”. It does not come from the mind, but from deep inside. It simply informs our mind of a particular direction that we need to take, or are taking in our life. The specific intention is created by asking your Self what actions and choices you need to make in order to move forward on your path to align with your heartfelt desire. So, don’t stop at “I want to…” but instead state your heartfelt desire in the present tense to acknowledge the will, energy, and truth that arrive with your Sankalpa. And be reminded that whatever is required of you is already within you. The most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship you have with your Self. January is Self-Love Month. Often the hardest love to give. But, the only person that can make you happy is YOU. Embrace your strength. It takes time to nurture your relationship with your Self. And Self compassion improves your chances of making a change for good. Don’t wait, set your Sankalpa for 2017. The more you love your Self and your choices, the less you need other people to love them. In the amount of time it takes to check Facebook or play a game of Candy Crush, you can practice a little Self care every day. So, what is essential to YOU? Find your fire. Ignite your power. Love your Self. "Just where you are… that’s the place to start.” Pema Chodron