If you’ve looked at the newsstands lately you probably noticed that just about every women’s magazine (and quite a few men’s) feature New Year’s Resolutions. “Half her size!” One of them exclaims. “This is the year you reach your goals!” Another promises.
I personally don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, guilt-fuelled vows made after a night of too much drinking (and a month of too much eating, spending, etc) often aren’t backed up with much commitment. But maybe that’s why it’s the people who celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s on January 1st who make resolutions. We are all in serious need of detox by then.
When I was 18 years old I took a yoga class. I had just gotten over a horrible case of mononucleosis and I was weak, stiff, and feeling completely non-physical. So I took this gentle yoga class at the local recreation centre to try and ease myself back into the land of the living. At the end of every class, our instructor would take us through guided meditation. She would ask us to focus on our breath and try and clear our minds. This was tricky for me -my mind is always going a mile-a-minute – and the first time I got really frustrated with myself.
Then she said something revolutionary: every time you stop focusing on your breathing and find thoughts cluttering up your mind, acknowledge it, and then return to meditation. No guilt. No failure. Just awareness, forgiveness, and re-committal.
A week ago I found my thoughts wandering and my breathing shallow, in a sense. I wasn’t being as mindful of my health as I had promised to myself. Instead of getting angry, feeling guilty, or giving up and giving in to the all-you-can-eat IHOP gorgefest (it exists!) I sat with my awareness. Then I bought a rec centre membership, went to a couple of fitness classes this week, and began tracking my nutrition more closely.
One of the reasons I think so many people give up on New Year’s Resolutions – or any commitment to themselves – is that the second they slip-up they feel guilty. They think they’ve failed. As that yoga instructor would remind us, we’re only human and we’re bound to get off-course on our road to enlightenment, healthy living, or any other type of goal. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, why not accept the moment and resume our journey?