I love this time of year. On the heels of celebrations and indulgence, January has always been an opportunity to take a good look at my life, reassess my habits, and work on making positive change. Some of my past resolutions have been, eat healthier, get more sleep, cut back on caffeine, volunteer, cut back on sugar and exercise more. Being a yoga instructor, I notice these are pretty high on other people’s list too, as I notice a slight increase in my yoga business in January. It is a wonderful time of year when people are full of motivation and great intentions for change in their life. The difficulty arises when people set up their goals too high and set themselves up for disappointment. In addition, oftentimes, people get stuck in past or future thinking. Being stuck in past or future thinking (ie, “I have always been too…” or “I will be happier when I…”) inhibits us from the natural flow in our lives and can create more stress and disappointment.
Keep your goals and intentions in mind, but try not to cling too firmly to them. Life is about change and the more flexible you can be the less likely you will be disappointed. Put “more awareness” and “more moments of stillness” on your list this year. When we bring more attention and consciousness to whatever we are doing, life flows a little more smoothly. For example, if one of the resolutions on your list is to “eat healthier”, try to “eat healthier with more attention.” Bring more awareness to mealtimes. Try to avoid eating while you are in front of the computer or television. And, if you have a craving for a particular food you label “unhealthy” (chocolate is one of mine), allow yourself to eat the chocolate but eat it consciously. Notice how you are feeling and any sensations in the body while you are eating the treat. By doing this, you will let go of any feeling of guilt or craving and assimilate better what you are eating.
Be gentle with yourself. If you miss an opportunity to exercise or if you have a day of unhealthy eating, let it go. Try to avoid getting stuck in “past thinking” and bring your awareness back to the present moment and what you can do at this moment to make positive change.
The more attention we bring to the present moment – the more we practice “being” in whatever situation we are in – the better we can adapt to the new habits in our lives. In this way, our resolutions to change unfold with ease.
Finally, (and here is my plug for yoga), yoga and meditation are a great way to practice presence and awareness. In yoga, the meditation begins with the very first breath on our yoga mats. With regular practice, we start to notice the ability to be present spilling over to other areas of our lives; creating greater flexibility (mentally and physically) and a lighter sense of being.
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Upcoming event: YOGA MOUNTAIN RETREAT Martigny 2013