“If we wish to save the world, me must have a plan. But unless we meditate, no plan will work.” The Dali Lama
Bringing New Year’s intentions to life.
It is January. The holiday season has officially come to a close. We have reflected deeply upon 2019 and set our intentions for 2020. Naturally, many of us are asking the question, “Okay. Now what?”
As wonderful as intentions may be, they remain just that without action. In order to take wise action towards bringing our intentions into form, we must have a plan. Formulating a plan to create meaningful change can seem daunting. We don’t know what the future will bring. We tend to make decisions based on our past experiences. Naturally, this makes change difficult because we find ourselves deepening already existing mental grooves and repeating the same behaviors over and over again. In order to change, we must first firmly ground ourselves in the present moment.
Hatha yoga is an excellent practice for grounding ourselves in the present. It is an embodied, experiential practice. It trains us to continuously bring our awareness back to our yoga mats when our minds begin to ruminate on the past or fret over the future. However, hatha yoga can do even more for us as we seek to bring our intentions into fruition.
The alchemy of yoga.
Hatha yoga is an alchemical process. The alchemists of old worked with base metals in order to transform them into gold. Likewise, as yogis we seek to transform the fluctuations of our minds into minds that are calm, steady, and allow us to connect deeply to our Higher Self.
In Sanskrit, the word hatha means “sun-moon”. We each have solar and lunar aspects of our psyches. Through our hatha yoga practice we seek to bring these parts of ourselves into balance. When the solar and lunar energies within us are balanced, we experience the state of Yoga.
Our solar energy is our Conscious self: our ego, rational thought, and outward-shining personality. It is the masculine energy of initiation and action. We need it for doing things as simple as getting out of bed in the morning and as complicated as starting a successful business. When it comes to creating meaningful changes in our lives, our solar nature gives us the energy to plan and take the action steps necessary to bring our intentions into being.
Our lunar energy is all that exists in our Unconscious: our dreams, desires, and most deeply held emotions. It is the feminine energy of stillness and receptivity. We need lunar energy to rest and calm ourselves for sleep. Our lunar nature allows us to quiet our thinking, rational brain and tune-in to our intuition and creativity.
The process of transformation.
The state of yoga is achieved when we balance our inner sun and moon -our Conscious and Unconscious selves. This allows us to set helpful intentions, create and sustain wise action, and birth a new way of being in the world. As we learn to think more clearly and listen more deeply to our inner guidance, we are empowered to live the best version of our lives that we can.
Tips for creating and sustaining positive change:
- Quiet the mental chatter. Find a practice such as yoga or meditation to help. Spending five minutes in meditation first thing in the morning sets the tone for our day. Our minds are better primed for clear thinking, allowing us to meet the challenges ahead.
- Some people prefer free writing. Others like to write with a prompt. We can try different journaling techniques to see what works best for us. The point is to take what is going on in our minds and put them onto the page for our review and consideration. We may discover things about thoughts that we wish to retain. Other things may come up of which we wish to let go. Journaling can help us better understand who we currently are and what we want for ourselves, the people around us, and even the world or our experience of it.
- Make a list of all the things we believe we “should” do. Some “shoulds” are helpful. For example, “I should feed my cat” is a helpful thought to have when the cat is hungry and it is time for him to eat. However, most “shoulds” limit our potential. Our “shoulds” come from a variety of sources. They are often followed by “because” and justify why we continue to do things that make us miserable. Instead of over-using the word “should”, what if we were to incorporate the word “could” into our daily lexicon more often? For example, “I could bring elements of the career I would love into my current workplace until the job I would love to do becomes my reality.” When we stop “shoulding” ourselves and start thinking in terms of what we could do, we open ourselves up to possibilities of which we have never even dreamed!
- Stay accountable. How often do we set wonderful intentions in January that are all but forgotten by Valentine’s Day? Instead, we can make a plan of how we will achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. We can take one small action (or a big action if we are feeling particularly ambitious!) every day to achieve our goals. Don’t give up, but also don’t be afraid if goals change. What we think we want in January is likely to evolve by July!
Now it’s your turn! How do you create and sustain positive change? Share with us in the comment section below!