What is it about a new calendar year that seems to hold so much potential for beginnings? Whether it’s a new diet, a new exercise program, or even a new outlook on life, January seems to be the most obvious starting point for people looking to initiate healthy change in their lives. But, why January? Are people more inclined to keep their resolutions or reach their goals if they begin their earnest efforts at the start of the year? According to recent statistics, the answer is no. In fact, less than half of people who make new year’s resolutions actually keep them past the first 6 months. So, why all the fuss every new year?? Well I’m no expert, but I think it has something to do with our mind-set. In each turning of the calendar year, our psyches get a chance to hit RESET, to wash the proverbial slate clean and start fresh. But is this astrologically insignificant, rather arbitrary moment in time necessary to achieve what I like to call a ‘beginner’s mind’? I don’t think so, and I think our beloved Yoga authority, Patanjali would agree.
In the first Yoga Sutra - “Atha Yoga Anushasanam”, he invites us to step into the beginner’s mind-set by drawing our attention to NOW. He calls on us to begin the discipline or practice of yoga in this present moment - atha. Patanjali understood the illusory nature of time and how the present moment is all that we really have at our disposal. He explains how the mind can easily hijack the present moment and rob us of it’s inherent potential by drawing us into the future or the past. In our yoga practice we learn to use the breath and body as a means of staying connected to this precious resource, nowness. By turning our attention inward, focusing on our breath, or moving ‘mindfully’, we learn to harness or “yoke” the mind into staying in the present moment.
This is the practice of yoga - stepping into the present moment with awareness and allowing the multi-dimensional parts of ourselves to work together in harmony. In being completely and fully present, we access inherent wisdom in ourselves not available otherwise. According to Loren Cruden,
“Nowness is where all participation begins and ends and is renewed in each turning of the wheel. Nowness is the path and the destination, and so you are always and already here.”
When we harness the energy of NOW, guidance becomes an ‘and now’ experience, rather than ‘what next’. We no longer need the context of a new year, a new month, or even a new day to make choices that serve our highest and best selves. The present moment is filled with mystery, surprise, and most importantly - choice. Like the dawning of each new day, every new breath we take presents us with an opportunity to begin living our best lives. So the next time you find yourself looking to the Gregorian Calendar, your watch, or any outside authority for guidance, look no further than yourself. Harness the power of NOW and the inherent wisdom within.