As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I'm witness to many a broken New Year's resolution. Most don't last beyond January. And I've broken many a resolution myself--but I've also kept some, permanently.There is so much that can be said about New Year's resolutions from an Ayurvedic standpoint, but today I'd like to focus on just one aspect--making resolutions that bring us joy. For a resolution to work, it has to come from the right part of ourselves. Some resolutions come from a critical part determined to 'improve' us. One of Ma's little sayings is, "Efforts at self-improvement based on self-hatred are rarely successful." We have to force ourselves keep this kind of resolution, and it fades away in two to six weeks--taking a piece of our willpower and strength with it.
My most keepable resolutions have come from joy, recognizing and nurturing my happy, creative inner child. The resolution is a structure to support me in doing what I love, rather than a stick to beat me into doing something I really don't want to do but think I 'should.'
Here are a couple of examples of resolutions that went really well.
At the end of 2009, I was visiting my mother. Mum, who had a type of dementia caused by strokes, would often wake in the morning unable to recall the events of the previous day. That inspired me to keep a journal and write down everything that happened. I had kept a journal throughout the nineties, but during the new millennium it became sporadic. And I would regret not being able to look back and see when something happened. So in 2010 I started up afresh with daily journaling. The journal gradually drifted away from its original purpose in that I didn't always write each night. Sometimes I wrote in the morning, sometimes I caught up on the weekend--a different kind of memory exercise! Each New Year since 2010 I've renewed the same resolution. It works because it gives me joy. And not one day has been missed from my journal. After Mum's death October 2015 my journal got backlogged, but somehow I clung on and managed to recall and describe each day. One day perhaps my nieces and nephews would like to read some of these journals. And maybe I'm creating a historical document for Colorado--a life of one Coloradoan.
In the second example: Last January, I resolved to study violin and voice. So early in January I started taking lessons at Parlando School for Musical Arts. Now I've been studying for a whole year. I'm learning to play Vivaldi's Spring and singing a real Mozart Aria--Deh Vieni Non Tardar from Figaro. I'm singing high B♭--even at my age! There's a lot of sheer hard work playing scales, arpeggios, exercises and studies. But essentially, this resolution worked for the whole year--and next year too--because it brings me joy. I'm back in touch with the little girl who carried her violin wherever she went.
These resolutions worked because they arose from my heart and contribute to my happiness. As my teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi used to say, "The necessary tends to overwhelm the important." Activities like journalling and music are important to me because they bring me joy and express my inner child. And things that bring joy help reduce stress and benefit health and wellbeing. So this year, try making some resolutions for life-enriching activities.
Alakananda Ma is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.