New Year - Better You!


Are you going to make a New Year’s resolution this year?

If you’re like me, resolutions often bring to mind failed attempts at dieting and fruitless commitments to unachievable goals. I have never made conscious, heart-centered resolutions, but this year I became interested in the history of New Year’s resolutions - how they started, and honestly, how to make mindful resolutions to feel better in my body.

The earliest recorded festivities celebrating New Year’s dates back to ancient Babylon 4,000 years ago, and was celebrated in late March when there was equal length sunlight and darkness. Ancient Babylonians celebrated the victory of the sky god, Marduk, over the evil sea goddess, Tiamat. In the year 46 B.C., Julius Caesar changed the first day of the year to January 1, partly honoring Janus (for whom January was named), the Roman god of beginnings, “whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.”

New Year’s today signifies a moment of just this - reflection on the year behind us and new inspiration to move forward into the year ahead. In the past, resolutions were more externally focused, such as paying off debts and returning borrowed farm equipment. Today, people tend to focus their resolutions internally, aka, on improving themselves.

In a recent New York Times article, Austin Frakt, highlights if a person cannot first identify the correct obstacle and does not have a desire to change, the resolution is bound to fail from the beginning. We must be all in if we want to change. Prior to creating a resolution he asks himself two questions. The first from a practical standpoint, “Why don’t I do this already?” and second from an emotional perspective, “Why do I feel the need to do this now?”

This fall I was feeling overwhelmed, my mind was racing and affecting my ability to feel present. I believed I could mediate this with a regular meditation practice, but had often failed in the past to follow through on the commitment. I now had the emotional motivation to change; I was overwhelmed. From a practical standpoint, I realized I was unable to maintain a practice previously, because I had little routine in my life and my sleep schedule was regularly shifting. I constantly felt as if “I didn’t have enough time.”

To tackle this issue, I first created routine in my life. I began to sleep the same hours and meditate immediately after waking. On those days when I felt lazy or unmotivated, I remembered my emotional motivation, to be less overwhelmed and more present. This has helped me stick to my decision and my commitment to my resolution.

Or, take inspiration from HuffingtonPost writer, Miho Kubagawa, and commit to 12 one-month resolutions with other people (very important!). Each month she chose a different focus but tracked her progress and was kept accountable by her social circle. She writes how she went vegan for a month, committed to read four books for a month, or her favorite, mailed 30 handwritten cards of gratitude for each day in a month.

Regardless of whether you participate or even believe in making New Year’s resolutions, use these tips to heighten your commitments, do it from your heart, and consciously use your past to inform your future.

 

By: Katie Janovec, Team Nia