On New Year’s Day I got a text from a girlfriend. “This is the year, Katie,” she wrote. “I’m losing weight. I’m gonna use that jump rope you gave me. I will stop drinking so much. And I’m gonna get a boyfriend.”
I giggled. I too was caught up in the swing of the New Year’s promise. On Day 1 of 2013, I made a few of my own resolutions: meditate for an hour, finish my book, and try to forget about getting a boyfriend.
Tantric yogis didn’t wait for any special day to fill them with resolution. They lived and breathed resolve. And they called it sankalpa, a desire/resolve/vow so strong that it is truly comes from the heart. When a desire is yoked to our soul, it’s virtually impossible for it to not be completed. Sadly, however, studies show that most New Year’s resolutions never become reality. According to a widely referenced study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, a whopping 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions go nowhere.
But as yogis, we have hope! You can weave tantric sankalpa into your own daily life. Here are some specific guidelines from the ParaYoga tradition on boosting the likelihood that you will be successful in the fulfillment of your goals. The end result? Happiness.
Believe your sankalpa Let your resolve be stronger than your gremlins. We all have little negative mind-voices that sabotage our dreams. Notice when your mind begins to spin the web of reasons why you can’t possibly fulfill your goals, and counteract it with positivity.
Cultivate shodhana (purity in the body) The more healthy foods, herbs, and good information you put into your body, the more prana, or energy, will result. You can use that energy to get your booty moving toward your goals. Using a neti pot, scraping your tongue, and keeping your body well oiled are other ways we increase purity.
Boost your sthira (stability in the body and the mind) Remaining sturdy amidst change is perhaps the single most important aspect for yogic success in today’s fast-paced world. You can gauge how much steadiness you have by contemplating how well you can withstand the ever-changing landscape of your life. If you notice yourself constantly checking your email, feeling overwhelmed, or over-booking your calendar, work on cultivating steadiness. Do your yoga asana practice in a way that builds firmness and stability. Hold your poses for at least a few minutes. Cultivate an even ratio of inhale to exhale. Notice the part of you that can witness the change in your breath. Be with the part of you that can watch your physical sensations without creating any mind stories (i.e., “My hamstrings are so tight. I must have more karma than my teacher! I’ll never reach enlightenment.”).
By identifying more with the part of you that can lovingly witness yourself doing yoga, you immediately begin to bring in more stability. With this steadiness, you are light years closer to fulfilling your resolution. Why? Because who you are on the mat translates into who you are becoming in the world. You aren’t thrown off-balance by change. You move in a direct line toward your goals. And, dear yogi, you become a member of the rare crew of human beings that actually complete their resolution. Onward into 2013!
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This article originally appeared on the Yoga Journal Blog on January 4, 2013.