We are at the cusp of a decade!
Each year, as December ends and the freshness of January unfolds, we strengthen our resolve to make the New Year more productive and fulfilling. The intention to grow in our lives galvanizes us towards action and inspires us to spring forward with renewed zest. So, while many of us make those lists and at the stroke of midnight on December 31st aspire to see ourselves in a new light, does our pursuit for change in the New Year take effect?
Julius Caesar in 49 BCE adjusted the Roman calendar and introduced the concept of celebrating New Year on January 1st. Howard J. Bennet of the Washington Post writes, “The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus. The ancient Romans imagined Janus as a two-faced god: one facing forward and one facing back. This symbolized his ability to look forward and backward at the same time. Janus was the guardian of arches, gates, doors, beginnings and endings.”
In ancient times, resolutions were righteous or spiritual in nature. They were meant for bettering the future by evaluating the past. Virtues like being kind to others or making promises to please the Gods for a specific purpose were commonplace. However, with time, the nature of resolutions has expanded. Popular resolutions in today’s times include a desire to lose weight, save money, eat healthy, quit smoking, pursue a passion or learn a new skill (Peter Economy, Forbes).
Choosing to Change
Striving for a better version of ourselves is both exciting and energizing. Many years ago, I chose to change. The grief of losing my mother and being sleep deprived and busy with two little children at home, gave way to acute stress and fatigue. Self-care took a backseat and with it my weight gain spiked.
Health is finding balance in all aspects of life. The catalyst for my change was my doctor’s imminent warning that I would soon have to get on blood pressure medication if I didn’t manage my lifestyle. It was time to be responsible for my health. I have always favored natural methods of managing disorders/illness unless using western medication is unavoidable.
As the New Year rolled in, the new day brought a new promise. Among other intentions, I pledged to reduce my weight in sustainable ways--crash dieting was certainly not an option! I embraced yoga, learnt to honor my body and become conscious of how I treated it, both physically and mentally. Eating mindfully, practicing my yoga asanas (postures) and being positive about my progress was gratifying.
Lo and behold, at my follow-up doc visit, my lab results came back normal! I was in good health and felt vibrant!
Many years have passed by and I have evolved from making exhaustive resolutions to working on specific goals. I now realize that by adding too much on to my plate, my progress suffers notably. Mindfulness in everyday life has taught me to slow down and re-assess. Taking charge of one task at a time has helped me appreciate the process and even measure my results!
Resolutions become a reality when the goals are well-defined. A resolution to lose 25 pounds can be overwhelming. However, small steps towards losing weight, for example 5 pounds in 2 months (by staying active and eating healthy) can make your goals achievable and keep your motivation alive.
Another popular goal that I hear in my role as a yoga teacher is from people who express their desire to start practicing yoga. They hesitate to take their first step because of reservations on their flexibility or simply not knowing how to get started. A beginner friendly yoga class with an experienced yoga teacher in your vicinity can dissolve all concerns and help you experience the joys of yoga. Yoga improves flexibility, both in body and mind. So take that first step and the rest will follow!
The yogic concept of Tapas helps us make headway in our goals. Tap in Sanskrit means heat, or to build heat. As expounded in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, with tapas we ignite the fire of self-discipline, habit and hard-work. By working within the framework of yogic principles like compassion and forgiveness for oneself, we establish consistency in practice. Results are accomplished by self-regulation, being tenacious and performing each task with a deep sense of humility.
Each passing year offers us the opportunity to reconnoiter our life’s path, awaken our passions, discover our strengths, and most of all be courageous to explore new avenues. Launching my yoga website and writing blogs on everyday topics from a yogic viewpoint were aspirations that took shape in 2019!
I am a wanderer at heart. My travels breathe in fresh perspectives and anchor me to the present moment. 2019 was an adventurous year where I explored Yosemite National Park on a bicycle, rode an ATV on the sand dunes of Pismo beach, CA, overcame fear of water and heights by plunging through a vertical drop water-ride, took a haunted history tour in New Orleands (ghosts and horror stories are not in my game). I am now wrapping up my 2019 with this blog, appreciating my zen moment in a remote seaside Airbnb home in Gulf shores, Alabama.
My goals for 2020 are firming up and I am thrilled at the prospect of unveiling new wellness workshops and new mindfulness/meditation programs. I intend to keep my learning dynamic through my reading, writing, group discussions and travels that hopefully take me across the globe!
This New Year, as we segue into the next decade, become curious about who you truly are, explore all possibilities that promise to enrich your lives and most of all celebrate life!
Happy New Year!
Author : Deepti Gupta
All of us have a story to tell. Turning ideas into words and life's experiences into stories is empowering and fulfilling.