We can change! Wait, we can change? Maybe to you nothing about this statement is surprising. Yet at one point early on in my yoga path John Friend said to me, and a room full of other yogis and yoginis, that we all had the power to shift any trait, any characteristic, any part of ourselves that we wanted. As many others, growing up I had a distinct, although unstated, belief structure that I was simply stuck with the personality traits with which I was born; I remember thinking on several occasions, ‘but that’s just the way I AM!’ Needless to say, hearing John say otherwise was, well, it was life-changing. Or rather, it was the door to the life-changing shifts that were to follow.
We’ve all heard it, “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” but, how many of us really remember to live that? How often do we make excuses for ourselves instead of owning the idea that if we really truly wanted to shift something about ourselves, we could. Does this sound familiar: “Oh, my pitta nature just makes me act crazy sometimes!” or how about “It’s just the virgo in me” or even, “My family dynamic growing up…”
I’m not saying that factors outside of us don’t affect us, of course they do. Yet one of the yogic teachings which has most affected me is about how we can shift all of the external manifestations of ourselves, simply by shifting the inside. And, for that matter, we can shift the inside in some ways from shifting the outside. As Thich Nhat Hahn once said: Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Nothing about us is permanent. Nothing about our lives is permanent. And nothing about our bodies. Situations not only can change, they absolutely will change over time, in one way or another. So why not influence them to change in a positive way as much as we can?
Because I firmly believe in our ability to shift our internal state, and the power that this has on our outer reality, I choose to set intention at the beginning of each new cycle (a new year, on the solstice, birthdays, etc…); rather than writing resolutions, I state a quality that I wish to enhance within myself over the course of the cycle. I believe that these beautiful traits already exist within me, as within all beings, and choose to grow them consciously until the become more apparent in my daily life. In the past I have worked with such qualities as trust and communication. For 2012 I have chosen the quality of contentment, or santosha in Sanskrit.
To me santosha means recognizing that not everything needs to change to be what in my mind would be perfect (e.g., the perfect community, the perfect job, the perfect relationship) but rather I can soften in order to recognize what is already perfect about all of these things. To qualify this, my definition of the word perfect may be different than it is typically defined by western society. As I’ve heard it described often, by many yoga teachers and Tantric scholars, I believe perfection is the process of working toward fullness. Therefore, I choose to be content with the way things are, while continuing the process of working toward fullness in my life, each and every day.
I encourage everyone to set these intentions regularly. Looking back on previous years it is obvious how much has shifted in my life because of making a conscious choice to change. Now, at the start of 2012, may you set your intention to open to the fullness of possibility within your own heart.