by Kedar Nath: The New Year is frequently a time for new beginnings, a time to set a number of goals for ourselves…
such as getting healthier, starting a new meditation practice, being more aware of our actions, becoming great at what we do, etc. For many this may be a time to end bad habits and negative behaviours. For others it may be a time to establish a completely different lifestyle.
LOOK BACK AT THE EVENTS OF THE LAST YEAR
The resolutions we set for ourselves boost us towards our chosen milestones. Before we make new ones, it is best to look back at last year’s resolutions and ponder over the events and experiences of the past year. It is time to weigh our accomplishments and failures and ask ourselves; Have I been successful in my goals? How has life changed – professionally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, etc.? What were last year’s resolutions and how did I do?
Resolutions must be achievable and realistic if we want to maintain our motivation. Setting goals which are too ambitious will often make us stagnate.
HERE ARE 5 RESOLUTIONS FOR YOGIS THAT WILL HELP YOU BRING FORTH THE BEST POSSIBLE VERSION OF YOURSELF.
1. SWAN JOURNALING
SWAN is short for strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and needs. Its purpose is to helps us understand our current state and the most important aspects of our lives.
Our strengths are not only attributes such as virtues and abilities but also dormant, potential strengths we are not yet aware of. Identify all your strengths and write them in your journal. Write down your potential strengths as well, and work on them each day to convert them into established strengths.
A weakness is anything which limits us from achieving want we want and stops us from attaining the best version of ourselves. Anger, hatred, ignorance are all weaknesses. Write down each of your weaknesses. Once you have your list of weaknesses, work out their origin and focus on them so you can find a way of turning them into strengths.
Our life and profession are usually built around our ambitions, desires and goals. Make a list of all your ambitions and goals in order of priority. It is your strengths that will help you achieve your goals. Your weaknesses will deter you from getting there. Keep turning your weaknesses intro strengths each day. That is the path to accomplishment.
Our needs are not only based on survival. Needs are everything we require to feel satisfied in life. There are six types of needs: physical, mental, emotional, personal, social and spiritual. Identify your needs and understand what it is you need and what it is you desire. They are not the same. Never prioritise your desires over your needs.
Generally, the shorter the list of ambitions and needs, the higher the level of life satisfaction and happiness.
Journal each and every week, and verify if you were able to fulfil your ambitions for the week. Always check your strengths and weaknesses. Have you found any new strengths?
SWAN journaling is a life changing method and a great resolution for the new year.
2. BREATHE FROM THE NAVEL
If you observe your breathing midway through your day, at your desk in the office you will notice you are most probably breathing from your chest. Even whilst watching TV, seated on your comfortable sofa, you will be breathing from the chest.
Our breathing should be from the navel, not from the chest. Life started in the womb, at our mothers’ navel. This was our first home. This is where we received nutrients in the womb, and this is where we turn our food into energy at present.
If you get used to breathing from the navel, you will be able to think less and act more. The navel is the human centre of action. Remember, the flow of breath and the flow of thoughts are related. When you are stressed and anxious your breathing is shallow. Learning how to breathe deeply from the navel will help you remain calm and lucid in all of life’s situations.
3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE DURING MEALS
Eat to live, never live to eat. This is the first rule of life. Remember that food is prana – the life force. What we eat, ultimately becomes part of us. Be aware of what you eat, and eat what is best for your body and mind. What is best for your body and mind, isn’t necessarily what is best for your waistline.
However, whatever you choose to eat, show gratitude. Just one minute before you commence your meal, close your eyes and take your awareness to your food. Whatever is in your plate lost its life to become part of yours, be grateful. Then take your awareness to the whole of humanity; there are many who will not get a plate of food today. Show gratitude for what you have received. Last but not least, be grateful to nature, from which everything we know is born.
This is an excellent meditation to practice before meals which is easy to follow and will change your relationship to food, nature and ultimately to life.
4. ASSOCIATE WITH POSITIVE AND INSPIRING PEOPLE
This may be one of the most important of resolutions we can set for ourselves. Our mind is a receptor of all external data, thus the people we fraternise with have a deep impact on our behaviour, even if we’re not aware of it. In the yogic culture, the term “satsang” is referred to as being in the company of the wise.
Spend this year trying to nurture the right kind of company. Surround yourself with those who share your goals and qualities. Good associations will help you build a stronger character and stronger traits. If you wish to eliminate some of your weaknesses, associate with those who do not have those weaknesses.
Stay away from negative people. Remember, negative people will only feed us negative data. Even if we think it does not affect us, negative data is still being transmitted to our mind. It is best to avoid such people and keep negativity at bay.
5. PRACTICE THE 18 ITIES.
The ITIES are cardinal virtues which will undoubtedly make us successful in all endeavours, provided we are able to cultivate and develop them appropriately.
Each month, choose one of the cardinal virtues and practice it for an entire month. Try to perfect the virtue for that month, then practice another one the following month. If you choose this resolution, you will need 18 months to practice all the ITIES.
The ITIES are serenity, regularity, absence of vanity, sincerity, simplicity, veracity, equanimity, fixity, non-irritability, adaptability, humility, tenacity, integrity, nobility, magnanimity, charity, generosity and purity.