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New Year’s Resolutions

Actualizado: abr 29



A new year begins and it is inevitable to think or talk about New Year’s resolutions. This topic can awaken feelings of distrust or even frustration among many. This can partly be an expression of rejection to something predisposed, a habit that we perceive as a social must. But it can also be a sign of a much more profound unease. New Year’s resolutions open the door to a possible failure. If we do not fulfill our resolution, we may feel weak and lose the sense of control of our lives. Hence, many will prefer not to make any New Year’s resolutions, in order to avoid having to deal with the disappointment of not keeping up their promises, possibly, right after the beginning of the year, although they strongly wished they came true.


Learning a new language, leading a healthier life, finding more time for oneself, getting fit... The typical New Year’s resolutions are essentially good. Then, why is it so hard to make them happen?


In his book The four desires, Rod Stryker points out that for every resolve there is always some degree of resistance to its fulfilling. If this resistance is too big, you will not succeed. This is so even if your resolution could bring very positive consequences into your life. Therefore, we must recognise that one thing is having an intention and a very different one is making it come true.


In terms of yoga philosophy we find the concept known as sankalpa. Sankalpa can be translated as intention, goal, will, resolve. First of all, it is important to acknowledge what is that we want and secondly, to find the right way to express this desire. But only repeating our sankalpa or intention is not enough to make it happen. It is naïve to think that by simply repeating a sentence many times to ourselves it will become true. A great deal of determination will be necessary.


The needed intensity of this effort will vary, depending on different factors. Rod Stryker explains this idea with what he calls ‘the creation equation’. According to this theory, there is a space between wanting and having that has to do with the internal resistance and the external obstacles. In certain occasions, resistance against the fulfilling of a desire is minimum, which means that the effort necessary to get it will be smaller. For example, if I am thirsty, my wish will be to drink a glass of water. Luckily for me, the only thing I have to do is go to the kitchen and pour myself a glass of fresh water from my jar. Quickly and by means of just going to the kitchen, I fulfilled my desire. On the contrary, think of a person living in a small village in Africa where there is no access to drinking water. The amount of effort will have to be huge and the circumstances might even make it impossible to allow someone drink a simple glass of fresh water.


Why is it so important to talk about something so obvious? Let’s have a look at the creation equation now. Three factors play a role in this theory: shakti (the force of my desire), vayu (the quantity of effort that I am willing to make in order to achieve my goal) and karma (the resistance, may it be internal or external, that is trying to prevent me from getting what I want, which is known as prapti). The equation would look like this:


shakti + vayu > karma = prapti (fulfillment of the desire)

This means that, if the total sum of your desire’s intensity plus the intensity of the energy you direct toward the fulfilling of your wish is bigger than the resistance, you will be successful. The logic following is very clear. On the one hand, the stronger your desire, the greater your involvement will be. Having a powerful desire will provide you with the necessary strength to carry out all the actions needed to achieve your goal and overcome the obstacles that will appear on the way. On the other hand, if your vayu is strong (the energy you use in order to fulfill your wish), it will make you bring together a great variety of resources to help you be successful, may they be physical, mental, emotional, material, social or spiritual. However, if the resistance is greater than the first two, it will hinder your way and will diminish the force of your desire and your energy. A practical example can throw some light for us to understand it better.


Imagine a student approaching the end of the year. He will soon have to face his final exams and his consequent desire is to pass with good marks. The student will put into action his willpower, discipline, love for the things he is learning, future expectations, he will spend money in books that will help him go deeper into the topics he is learning, he will invest his time in studying, he will enjoy learning new things... All these factors are going to help him follow the path to the achieving of the desired grades. If he really wants to get brilliant results, he will do everything that is in his hands to expand his knowledge and reach the goal. But then, a friend comes into his bedroom. There is a party and the girl he likes is going to be there. He begins to think about the current job market situation and feels discouraged and depressed. He looks at the pile of books he must reread to get some clear ideas. He starts to lose his self-confidence. He is full of doubt and begins to question if it makes even sense to do everything he is trying, instead of enjoying the moment with his friends. To make things worse, his flatmate has just turned on the music really loud and it’s impossible to concentrate. As you can see, the student is facing an endless number of obstacles. Some are internal (lack of discipline, of self-confidence) or external (the current job situation, the people around, the noise). If the student’s wish I so strong, that nothing, not even the disappointing unemployment rates will make him get away from his books, he will be more ready to achieve his goal. He will tell his friend that he can’t go out tonight, he will go to the library with his heap of books and he will quickly be absorbed in his reading. He will set aside his lust for fun, for a higher purpose. But if his desire and energy yield to the mountain of obstacles, it will only be a matter of minutes till we see him in a bar having a night out with his pals.


To sum it up, the intensity of these factors, will determine what will happen in the end. When you want something, ask yourself, how much do I really want this? If you honestly wish to reach a goal, work hard to increase the forces that will help you be successful. Determine what the forces of resistance are that are against you and take actions with those you can change. And above all, remember that the greatest resistance you will have to fight is your own resistance to change, to transformation. When you create your sankalpa, visualise how your life would be after completing your feat. This can help you see if the desire you expressed is sincere.


#philosophy #yoga #english

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