|Change. Just the word alone can ignite excitement! More commonly, it stirs up FEAR. We often crave change, but the work of making it happen can be terrifying. It's a work-IN!|
We have all experienced or heard stories about failed New Year’s resolutions. We lose a few pounds in January only to gain ten in February. We resolve to be healthy only to find ourselves even further out of balance. We want to eat smaller portions or be more active and we find ourselves sitting on the couch with a bag of chips feeling guilty. We want to be more active but stop because UGH it just feels so uncomfortable when we are out of shape. It happens to many. The question is WHY is this such a common scenario?
Before you jump to your end goal and muster through the big push to make it happen, it is helpful to take some quiet time to pause and reflect. Be gentle with yourself. The habits you have created in your life are a symptom of a problem not the problem itself. They have developed based on your life experience so far, how you have needed to cope or manage, how you got results, how you got needs or wants met. With awareness of the habit or situation you want to change, you can begin to dissolve old patterns of thinking and start creating the life you want.
In yoga, we call conditioned or habitual patterns samskaras ~ the web of mind and body. Yoga asana (the physical practice of yoga postures or 'seats') teaches us to 'sit with' what is arising in our mind and our body. What are our habitual ways of reacting. How do we show up on our mats? If a posture is too challenging, do we get hard on ourselves or blame the teacher or circumstance? This can all be applied off the mat as well. How do we show up in the real world when we face challenge? Do we over react? Do we blame? Do we eat brownies? Do we watch TV? Do we drink? Do we ignore? What habits do we create to cope? These are likely the very same habits you want to change in the new year. We can get off the mouse wheel. We don't have to keep running. The change starts with awareness! Pause to reflect and create forward action based on centered intention rather than spiraling through typical patterns.
Yoga practice on or off the mat is a practice of observing, undoing, restructuring and transforming. When we see clearly (vidya), we make different choices. Healthy patterns become easeful to integrate. Imagine that! EASE! So start with awareness of where you are. Plug it into your GPS. Type in your destination goal. Then plan the journey. It's not helpful to push through change. Baby steps. Start where you are. Invite what you want. Remove obstacles to change. Practice new habits again and again, and again and again! Be gentle with yourself. Start again if you have a mis-step. Integrate. Enjoy. Be curious. Observe. Ask yourself in every moment "Does this action/thought serve my intention?" "Will this nourish me?" "Is this bringing me closer to balance?" Go deeper, "Why did I create this habit in the first place? Emotional fulfillment? Boredom? Need for self worth? Need for love or acceptance?" You will be amazed what you discover when you get to know yourself!
Rather than focusing on what you don't want in your life, set your internal dristi (gaze or focus) on what you DO want. For example, integrating healthy foods into your daily diet, by default, omits unhealthy choices. Start on a positive note. Being hard on yourself won't get you to your goal any faster. In fact it's more likely to suck up a lot of the energy you could be using to manifest what you do want. Try starting the new year by reflecting on positive or joyful moments from the year past. What were you really happy with? What are you proud of? Build on this. If you focus on your 'failures' you are likely to give failure more power. Don't let failure be a word in your vocabulary. Instead, allow these mis-steps to be an opportunity to observe yourself. Get to know yourself better. Learn. Love yourself no matter what. Move forward.
Be sure to reflect on all parts of your being. A fragmented intention alone is not complete. For example, a common resolution to lose weight focuses only on the physical aspect of our being. Create a full being intention - body, mind, heart. You might intend to return to a healthy weight, feel your body strong and vital, have energy to fulfill your passions and give energy to healthy relationships, feel inspired in your day and in your life in general.
I live by these words of wisdom one of my teachers once shared: "Take a baby step, toward balance, in the right direction, appropriate for you uniquely, for where you are in your life in this moment..and be content with this."
All of this philosophy is at the heart of naturopathic medicine: Get to the root cause, treat the whole person: mind, body, spirit, share the principles of healthy living. I hope the wisdom that was once shared with me helps you reach your New Year’s resolution goals and assists you in living a healthy and inspired life!
Laura is a licensed naturopathic doctor and certified yoga instructor. Her naturopathic practice Awaken Wellness Within is located in the heart of downtown Collingwood. She can be found teaching yoga at Buddha Rider Yoga & Cycle studio.
"As a naturopathic doctor, through education, empowerment, and example, I endeavour to guide patients toward manifesting optimal health and living their most inspired life!"
“As a yoga instructor, my intention is to guide students towards getting in touch with their breath, listening to the innate wisdom of the body, observing the connection of the mind, body and spirit, and awakening the life force within.”
Laura Vanderaa, CYT BSc ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Certified Yoga Instructor
136 St Paul St. Collingwood ON