As the New Year approaches, resolutions are ubiquitous and, quite often, plain stressful. The idea that once a year we have to throw our wellness, work and personal routines into upheaval for the sake of being [fill in the blank here- better, fitter, thinner, less stressed, more put together…] is enough to make us close the curtains and pretend that ball will never drop.
This year, let’s do ourselves a favor and take a hint from the practice of yoga. Rather then fashioning audacious resolutions, let’s set intentions. Whether or not you’ve ever done a Down Dog, creating intentions is an accessible and stress-free way to support a mindful and fulfilled 2018.
Within the boundaries of a yoga mat, the purpose of an intention is to choose an action, feeling or state of mind we wish to cultivate over the duration of our practice. Some days, simplicity serves us, perhaps in a clear-cut word to remind us what we’d like to foster. Breath. Joy. Gratitude. Other days, it’s more complex as we dig beneath the surface in an effort to purge or restore. Commencing anything with this type of conscious purpose soon gains magnitude. Eventually, intentional beginnings drift off our mat and infiltrate other areas of our lives.
The purpose of an intention is to choose an action, feeling or state of mind we wish to cultivate over the duration of our practice.
Typically, New Year’s resolutions are external actions or desired outcomes. They stem from what we believe is missing from our lives. Intentions, on the other hand, are not external. They do not live outside our mind or souls, yet they often need to be resurrected. This is why intentions can be much more accessible and fulfilling than resolutions. There is no striving, no hustling and no reaching, only recognizing and rediscovering those splendid pieces of us.
As we seek an intention for the coming year, a question we need to ask ourselves is, What do we need more of in our lives? And then we need to go deeper, beyond what would traditionally spark a standard resolution. We need to dig all the way down to the root of that desire.
Does this yearning stem from a distorted sense of self-worth? From feeling like we are never enough, regardless of what we accomplish? Do we possess a dry well of self-love? Is there guilt? Shame? In summation, where is the pain point in our life? These are big questions to answer and it’s normal for them to evoke discomfort or vulnerability.
To support this quest, take note of these sample intentions:
For those of us who go, go, go, Simplicity might be our keyword for next year. Not for the sole purpose of doing less, but for the sake of enjoying what we do more.
Self-compassion might be an appropriate intention. When we go down the rabbit hole of shaming, we can gently remind ourselves that our flaws make us relatable, human and beautifully one-of-a-kind, and we are simply doing the best we can.
If we constantly close up like a clamshell under siege, Be vulnerable might be a relevant phrase to inspire the coming months. By continually reminding ourselves to stay open amidst the hard stuff, we will be ready to embrace all that is good, the moment it graces our doorstep.
A few more intentions that may echo significance include I am enough, exactly as I am. Share my unique gifts. Take a chance. Keep an open heart. Harness courage. Say yes. Honor my worthiness…
The list is infinite and oh, so personal. If we can quiet our mind enough to listen to our gut, it will tell us exactly which word or phrase can fruitfully inspire our upcoming year.
When you find an intention that resonates with your current state, write it where you will see it. Make it the lock screen on your phone. Put a sticky note in your car. Doodle it on a piece of paper and then tape it to the inside of your medicine cabinet or pantry. Amidst these ordinary places, you’ll find the surprise reminder. Most importantly, remember this isn’t a gamble — you cannot pass or fail. Instead, it is an accessible state of mind and these notes are simply friendly nudges to enhance each day.
New Year’s resolutions will forever have a time and place, though an intention will fuel your life with inner wisdom and purpose. Take the time to find one and then dig it up, set it ablaze and let it burn like a sparkler through 2018.
After thinking through this article, what’s your intention for 2018?
Images via Nicole Ho