I very deliberately made homemade whipped cream to top the fresh berries I bought for our New Year’s Day dinner. Austere food restrictions had no place at our table as we welcomed 2016. If anything, I want to add more sweetness to the next twelve months – nothing sickeningly so, but as with perfect whipped cream, a touch of sugar goes a long way.
This year I’m making an intention rather than a resolution. In yoga, an intention is the act of bringing awareness to a quality that you wish to cultivate in your life, both on and off the mat. It is the determination to act in a certain way.
For many, the new year brings harsh inventories of mental and physical defects that spawn Spartan-like regimens. A resolution identifies a problem and promises an answer. It’s an if-then statement. If I do this then I will be fixed.
But we are humans, not math problems, and few things in life are linear or easily deconstructed. Most of us will find our ourselves looking at the same inventory list next January.
So this year I’m trying another approach. I’m visualizing 2016 as one long yoga practice. On January first I set my intention to be willing to come from a place of kindness, more often than not.
As I climb up the decades, I’ve developed a mighty respect for kindness. I have watched it trump just about any vice or virtue as it ripples outward like rings from a pebble dropped into a smooth lake. It brings us to the sweet spot between effort and ease, strength and weakness.
If I am kind with my thoughts I will be brave and more curious.
If I am kind to my body I will more likely choose to eat better, sleep well, and exercise. I will also unapologetically enjoy a splurge.
If I am kind to my family I will honor myself and them by holding steady and not falling prey to fear and anger.
If I am kind to my friends we will be become pillars in each other’s lives.
If I am kind to strangers I will be more open to people and new experiences.
If I am kind to my community I will lose myself in something bigger and lasting.
Contrary to New Year’s lore, none of us can completely erase our real and perceived less-delightful traits, but we can make an honest effort to befriend ourselves which will go a long way toward relief.
An intention is not inherently solution focused, it’s more of a gentle reminder of how we want to live and a guide post to get us back on the path when we forget. It’s in the failing, and the trying again and again, where the progress is made.
It’s as simple as coming back to the breath and a single thought. You can always start anew. That is why they call it a practice.
“I love my life, I regret my life. The lines eventually blur and it’s just my life.” ~ Tobi (Patrick Stewart) in the film Match
I took the photograph at the park next to the Palmer Event Center, Austin, TX.
The opening quote is from Dan Gilbert.