It’s that time of year when you decide to make some resolutions. It’s only natural; we all want the world to change and we all want to be different. The further we are away from feeling ourselves and being on track with who we are and what we doing, the more the desire for change begins to grow.
If your New Year resolution has already fallen by the wayside, just a few days into a fresh year, the chances are you are thinking ‘wow, change is HARD’. And yes, it is – particularly if we force ourselves to do it. The problem is that over the years we grow resistant to change, particularly change that is forced from the outside. So it’s little wonder that many of us feel as though we have ‘failed’ to keep our New Year resolutions.
As humans, we are very good at creating obstacles for ourselves against wanting to do things differently, do things better, more efficiently and more effectively. Whatever your career, the chances are you have come across a resistance to change everywhere – we certainly have. So the key is to avoid force and instead figure out a way to not push it, but rather manoeuvre around the obstacles so that change happens in life without even thinking about it. Current scientific research supports this insight.
Apparently its not about willpower or self-control at all; it’s about habit forming. When habits develop we are creating new patterns in our neural network. Once this ‘rewiring’ is complete, it is forever, it never disconnects. That’s how you can make your New Year resolutions stick.
Change From the Inside Out
To create new habit pathways you need to do two (very easy) things:
- Learn to meditate
- Embed an intention to change inside your meditation practice. In yoga science this is called a Sankalpa.
When we employ modern meditation, we set the conditions and create the space for one’s real intentions and purpose to rise and take shape naturally.
Quite simply, learning to meditate gives you the capacity to reset and to make changes. The sort of changes we are talking about here come from deep inside. And it’s far more powerful than willpower. Once we learn through meditation that we don’t have to be the person we thought we needed to be to get by, but in fact we can just be and do ourselves – we are free and in that freedom comes this natural resetting. It’s almost like a reboot – and from there, anything is possible.
How do we do it?
So if you decided to make changes in the New Year, believe it or not you’re actually taking part in a yoga practice and employing an ancient technique called Sankalpa, which basically means intention setting. It comprises of a positive statement of self and authentic intention to arise, linked to the moment. When we employ modern meditation we set the conditions, create the space for one’s real intentions and purpose to rise and take shape naturally. A good example of a sankalpa-based habit of forming intentions tend to be ‘I am’ statements such as:
“I am at peace with everyone and everything”
“I am relaxed with who I am
“I am free in mind and body”,
“I am deeply fulfilled by all that I do”
“I am creative and skilled”
“I am whole, happy, healthy, harmonious, loving, strong and powerful, only good lies before me…”
There are two things to notice here: firstly, they are not concerned with ‘things or events’, such as ‘I need to cut down on red wine and chocolate, ask for a pay rise, rewrite my CV, find a new partner’ etc. Secondly, each intention is in the present tense. In this way we are planting seeds in the nervous system that almost tells your mind/body that your intention is coming to fruition right here, right now. The change will happen all by itself.
So keep your intentions short and to the point. When practicing meditation, remind yourself of your intention – repeat it regularly. Through meditation you have created space, you have allowed the mind to settle and the intention will take root; it will form a habit which will in turn enable you to meet your goals and make the changes in your life, no matter what you are doing.
If you’re determined to make a change this year, learn how to sustain it.