Guest blog by Yogasteya member Abby Nathanson
Happy New Year! 2015, 2015, 2015!
If you’re like me, or like most of the people I’ve ever met, you have a pretty solid history of intending to make some kind of resolution every time January rolls around, but consistently find yourself completely resolution-less just a couple of days, weeks, or months later. Maybe our demanding culture of searching for the next best thing pushed you to feel obligated to make resolutions, but you never actually found something that made sense for your life at the time. Maybe you made a resolution for the year, but found out partway through that 365 days is a very long time to hang on to one idea. That’s not just because it’s difficult to keep something going for one year – but also because most of us have inadequate future-reading skills, so we often find that the goal that we set in January just might not be as relevant or necessary or meaningful come June.
In the year 2015, I propose two new approaches to resolutions in honor of the new year.
First, if you haven’t started yet, it is absolutely not too late! The Gregorian calendar upon which we base our annual cycle only means so much. Time is still time, it still moves, and today still makes enormous sense as a time to begin an intention.
Second, considering how our lives and subsequent needs might very well change over the course of the year, I’m trying something new this year with 24 cycles of 15-day resolutions. 15 days is manageable, and isn’t too overwhelming. 15 days lets me learn something, then modify the goal to better fit my needs. (Just like trying a pose for the first time before rushing to get your folded blanket and strap!) 15 days is enough time to take a risk and try something new. Anyone want to try this out with me?
Here are my top 15 suggestions for awesome, meaningful, healing, reflective 15-day resolutions for 2015:
- 15 days of genuine compliments. Compliment your loved ones, acquaintances, and strangers. Give compliments that are not focused on a material item, normative body image, or something about that person’s child or significant other. Look deeper. And, encourage others to accept compliments without shame.
- 15 days of cutting down your environmental impact in a tangible, lifestyle way. If you’re a vegetarian, try veganism for 15 days. If you eat many animal-based foods, pick a few (eggs? red meat? yogurt?) to experiment with moving away from. Try out a “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” policy in your home. Consider going for the zero trash challenge, which will really bring about some changes.
- 15 days of eating whatever you want, for the pure joy of it. What if you just gave yourself permission to let go? (Suggested by my mother!)
- 15 days of keeping a yoga diary. What thoughts come up for you during savasana? What poses were most challenging, distracting, satisfying? You might learn a lot just from journaling every day after yoga. If you can’t practice that day, try outlining a sequence you might like to try, brainstorm new locations for random acts of yoga, or write down an interesting yoga memory.
- 15 days of minimizing your normative/mainstream media intake. Studies and also most people ever show that consuming mainstream media is harmful in so many ways. Direct your visual and aural energy elsewhere. Decolonizing Yoga, Feministing, and Alternet are great places to start.
- 15 days of sending org emails to yourself. An epic cross-time reflection experiment, FutureMe allows you to send messages to yourself, any date in the future. Spend 15 days leaving hopeful, funny, time-encapsulating messages to the next 15 years of future you.
- 15 days of foreign language. If you speak fluently/only curse in/kinda-sorta-used to know a foreign language, dedicate 15 days to re-integrating it into your life through movies, grocery lists, narrating aloud while you drive, whatever works for you! Or, spend 15 days learning a bit of a new language. (Sanskrit names of yoga poses?)
- 15 days of only buying what you really need. Focus on what you have. Give away things that no longer serve you, but that might serve someone else.
- 15 days of recording the simple things – all the happy moments, every time you laughed with someone, or each new thing you learned. See what joy and knowledge you can invite into your life in just 15 days.
- 15 days of dream/sleep journaling. It might be really fascinating, or at least a delightfully relaxing way to coax yourself awake.
- 15 days of picking your outfits mindfully. We get dressed every day, so how could we use that ritual as a reflection tool? Try only wearing neutral colors, not wearing your favorite color, only wearing clothes that have memories in them, or only wearing clothes that are truly comfortable – and don’t itch!
- 15 days of seeing the moon. If you live in a city, have you ever had 15 consecutive days in which you took a moment to look at the moon? Or go for sunrises, sunsets, or cool-looking clouds.
- 15 days of using the Internet mindfully. I mean, you’re reading a blog right now so I know that the Internet and social media have a role in your life. Spend 15 days off of Facebook and emphasizing Face-to-Face interactions instead. De-clutter your social media life! Use the vast resources of the world wide web to get in touch with a community or support group that could serve you, or to research something you’ve been meaning to learn about (a different country each day, perhaps?).
- 15 days of hanging on to connections that matter. Send a quick email, a funny selfie with a note, a real paper postcard, or just some mindful energy each day to a person in your life who you may have lost touch with. You don’t have to bring people back in to your life to appreciate the good memories from the past.
- 15 days of being there for you. This could mean working on transforming the negative, critical, nagging voices in your head, or posting self-affirmations throughout your living spaces, or looking inward for validation, pride, and acceptance through all the small moments in your day.
Want to join me?
If you do 15 cycles of 15 days each, you will be practicing powerful intentions for 225 days, which is 61% of the year. Sounds like quite a bit of mindful action to me! If you start at the beginning of January, you’ll have a chance to do 24 cycles in 2015, with 5 extra days for transitioning between particularly challenging resolution cycles. Start in the beginning of February, and you’ll have 22 cycles, with 4 transition days.
Let’s see what happens! Please, share your own suggestions for 15-day resolutions, and let the community know what’s working for you and what isn’t! As for me, I’m doing 15 days of looking into natural remedies for my nasty eczema followed by 15 days of seeking validation from within in mundane moments. We’ll see!
Abby Nathanson is the Co-Founder of Women’s Power Space, the center for women’s leadership, collaboration, yoga and arts in downtown Poughkeepsie, New York. She studied Sociology and Africana Studies at Vassar College and is a RYT-200 yoga instructor with a background in the Iyengar method. Abby is passionate about feminism, anti-racism, decolonial witchcraft in Cameroon, crying in pigeon pose, and savasana (resting pose) that is practiced with a bolster, eye pillow, two blocks, and three blankets. To connect, visit her website.