Wow! 2013 is over and off we go into a brand new year.
In so many ways today, January 1st of 2014 is going to feel the same as yesterday and many of the days preceeding it. Likely you will feel like the same person, doing the same things, spending time with the same people, bumping up against the same obstacles – it will all feel so very familiar. And yet, this new day of this new year can still be a very potent day for setting the course for how, who, where and what you want to be.
Truly, every day this opportunity exists however the power of this day, this marker of beginning, is especially significant. All around the world this new beginning is being acknowledged. Intentions and goals are being set. The air around you is charged with the energy for change, improvement, and fulfillment. You are standing on the brink of this new year and you are standing here with billions of people who are opening themselves in these same moments to the potential for transformation.
We all know that while many people declare resolutions for the new year, many also fail within just a few weeks. Because of this, many are skeptical, even critical of the New Year’s Resolution and have sworn it off completely. Still yet, there is that draw to somehow mark this new beginning. We can do that by setting intention rather than resolution.
How is that different?
To resolve to something is to identify a problem and commit to fixing it. This can be somewhat negative as the root of the resolution is a problem. Setting intentions tends can feel more open and spacious. They look toward a positive feeling or expression that is desired rather than a problem to eliminate. Keep this in mind as you express your intentions for this new year.
If you find yourself saying something like, “I intend to go work out everyday so I can get fit”, this is really more like a resolution. It is rooted in being other than you want to be and trying to fix it. It is a statement of resolved action to correct a problem. It is, with this type of resolution or “intention” easy to then begin to dissolve it….”ok, I am not making it every day, so I will go 3 times/week”, “well maybe I will walk”….. and then when you look back it seems the resolution was a failure and maybe even YOU were a failure.
When you set your intentions for the New Year consider instead of what you want to do. How you want to feel. What you want to experience. How you are going to express your best self. The intention might then be:
“My intention this year to choose to do things that support vibrant health.”
“I want to feel fit and healthy and choose to bring into my days things that support that.”
Through making statements like this to yourself, you are no longer setting up a condition which is easy to fail at and you are beginning to visualize something that may bring more motivation to following through. You are also recognizing that each day and each thing you do is a choice and so you set from the beginning greater accountability into the equation. This also recognizes that fitness itself is not the goal – that feeling great is and different days will bring differing needs for feeling great. Some days it will be that intense workout and some days, you will really need to rest. Each day brings the responsibility to stop and ask, “what do I need?”, “which is the choice that will help me feel good?”
A shift in perspective like this is often our most powerful tool for change. Having a broad but consistent focus can be very helpful to bring that shift about. It is easy to step back into our familiar way of being, doing and thinking but having an anchoring intention that isn’t about doing one particular thing but instead highlights our choice in the matter can help to break down some of the obstacles in the way of our achieving what we want.
To support myself in staying true to the shifts I want to make I have decided to do a daily practice of mantra for 40 days. I was inspired by a friend to explore this and am very excited about its potential. I am calling on help to remove the obstacles and in this, setting the foundation for more clearly seeing them and being able to make the best choices when they arise.
40 is a significant number in many spiritual traditions and signifies consistency, dedication and faith. If you stick with something for 40 days, you trust that your efforts are worthwhile and you do it no matter what, it sets not just that habit but an energetic pattern. Rather than choosing to eat a particular diet or do a specified workout or be a certain way, I am choosing to simply do this mantra practice.
A mantra is a powerful statement or prayer that sets a certain energetic pattern in the brain and heart. I am doing the Ganesha Mantra recognizing the quality of Ganesha that is the remover of obstacles and supporter of forward movement on the journey of a fulfilled life. Bringing this to mind for a concentrated period of time – chanting 108 times – for 40 days in a row is a practice that yogis have done for millennia and so this too can be supportive. I remember the power of the practice. Chanting the mantra daily is helping me to set a daily foundation for my goals and an acknowledgement that the obstacles in my way can be cleared. It is giving me space to see them more clearly and to see the way through them as well. I am finding the practice very positive and enjoyable and the time feels well spent.
After chanting the mantra in the morning I am set for the day to be conscious and I remember and consider my intention as I make each new choice. There is less focus on whether I have done the right thing and more on creating the feeling and experience of freedom and love that is my ultimate goal.
Now, honestly this is only my fourth day! But I do feel that potential here and am committed to continuing. I will let you know how it goes.
I invite you to join me in this either with the Ganesha Mantra 108 times/day or with any prayer that feels appropriate for you. Some possibilities would be to pray the Rosary, to say the Serenity Prayer, to wake up daily and recite the Dalai Lama’s prayer of gratitude or here below is one you might use too. It is 108 words written by Benjamin Riggs, a meditation teacher in Louisiana, and printed in Elephant Journal this week:
I am responsible for the growth and maintenance of mindfulness in my own life. Each day is an opportunity for me to discover deeper truths about myself. Every moment in an invitation for me to grant others the space they need to be themselves. Within me exists a world of awe and splendor, and every morning is a reminder of the innate obligation to participate in my own majesty. This life is my inheritance as a human being and I will claim it by living as fully as I possibly can through mindful and compassionate participation. May any reward be recycled through my service to others.
Consider what mantra, prayer, poem or remembrance would remind you daily to live fully and completely into your intention and put it somewhere you see it regularly. Stop. Chant it, sing it, say it out loud and reflect on the words. Give it 40 days and let’s check back and see what happens!