In January of 2011, I thought of resolving to practice yoga for two hours each day, beginning at 5 am. Great idea! It would feel virtuous to awaken before dawn, a daily practice would be ensured, and each day would be enriched by it. Fortunately, I have never embraced this resolution, knowing that it would fail in a very short period of time.
As I thought about the year ahead, I needed to understand the continuing appeal of this unmade resolution. What lay behind it? One possibility was that it came from some belief about what a ‘real’ yogin should do, how I was supposed to lead my life. I easily created images of this ‘real’ yogin, what she looked like and how she lived her life. But she was definitely not me, nor, when I thought of it, was she anyone I knew. What’s more, yogic teachings made clear that the deepest purpose of the practice was to know and become fully ourselves.
Once I let go of the idea that I was supposed to do the 5 am practice, it still had appeal. I had to ask myself again what lay behind it, really. At its core, I discovered, was my desire to deepen my yoga practice, to make it more central in my life. Acknowledging that, I was able to let go of this specific goal and to embrace something bigger and much closer to my heart: the intention to deepen and expand my practice in the coming year.
Committing to this intention brought me to a state of mind, a kind of path without a specific end point in the future. More powerfully, it infused my experience every day, shaped how I directed my energy, and provided useful boundaries. It helped me to say ‘no’ to what didn’t really matter, to say ‘yes’ to what did, and to garner the courage to do both. I became aware of possibilities I would not have noticed before and made decisions different from those I would have made earlier. As I look back over the year, I see how strongly my intention shaped what happened. Indeed, this blog is just one result of my commitment to that intention.
This January, I am taking time and care to set my intentions for 2012, knowing that the intentions must really matter, that they require effort and courage to sustain, and that, in the end, they can be life-changing.