Every year many of us enter the new year with some sort of resolution. Our intent being to make some change that will better ourselves or make us happier. Any number of resolutions are made ranging from quitting smoking, giving up booze, starting a diet, swearing less, eating better, etc. More than 90% of us who venture into the domain of resolutions experience failure. This often puts us in a cycle of doubt and defeatism.
Why is it that we want to change? Why is it so hard?
As the Bhagavad Gita teaches, we are all on a journey to realize a connection with our source; we are on a journey of spiritual discrimination, longing to know our True Essence. There is a yearning - consciously or unconsciously - to reconnect with that part of us that is ever present but veiled by the goings-on of life, not to mention karmic veils. This disconnect creates much strife in our lives and presents itself as unhappiness, confusion and the like.
Our search for meaning and purpose gets externally driven. We seek happiness from outside ourselves in the form of relationships, materials possessions, power, money, status, sensorial stimulation, for example. Distrust, desire and pride inform our decisions and experiences. Our society largely identifies with the physical self and the ego that drives it. We are, for the most part, completely disconnected from our transcendent self. Even most therapists don’t broach this domain. Religious guides keep us focused at the ego-level of reality.
We can affect positive change
It is often crisis that forces us to change the path of our lives. This may appear in the form of disease diagnosis, loss of a loved-one, relationship or job. With these events we often enter into a crisis of identity, the notion of who we are being shaken.
Yoga techniques help us to pull back the veils that keep us from knowing our true essence. We do not have to wait for a crisis in our lives to change. We can set intentions and move towards them. Setting intensions (sankapla) from a deeply quiet place, where the mind is still and the influences of the senses are at bay will increase the likelihood of the intention coming to fruition.
My teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, has developed a technique which he calls Relax into Greatness; he uses Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) as the foundation for getting completely still then guides students to establish their sankalpa. Before they identify their sankapla however, they immerse themselves in the feeling of gratitude, being grateful for all that has brought them to this place in time. (A sample of this technique is available on my website. )
Yoga teaches us that gratitude is a rich soil from which intentions can germinate and blossom. Gratitude, when felt in this place of stillness, and where a sankalpa is identified, is the perfect combination for our wishes to materialize.
"Each thought wave influences the mind and creates therein a vibration that affects your whole life. Each emotion affects your destiny - your karma." This quote from my teacher's first Guru, Mani Finger, was his favourite tantric maxim. It reminds us that the vows we make, whether constructive or destructive, whether made consciously or unconsciously, are the forces that shape our destiny.
Our birthright is one of happiness, joy and love. This is not the stuff of our modern times, despite our material gains. We can, and arguably must, begin to find paths that lead us there, not only to build a stronger social fabric, but even to save our planet. Yoga certainly offers up a host of tools and techniques. Finding a teacher who can help you to identify the practices that will awaken the greatness within may be something to set as an intention.
All the best to each of you in 2013.