I love what the new year represents – a fresh start, a new beginning and the idea of a clean slate. But, I’ve learned not to do much in the way of resolution making. They just don’t work for me. Resolutions are the things two weeks at the gym are made of. You know, the first two weeks in January where the gym is super crowded with folks who have resolved to get fit, exercise 7 days a week and lose 50 pounds by bathing suit season. But what about the other 50 weeks of the year?
Why don’t we keep our resolutions? What’s missing, I think, is the connection to what your soul wants. When your soul speaks it has a purpose – to set free our deepest, most heartfelt desires. This is the stuff of your dharma, or your purpose in life; what you are put on this planet to do.
Your dharma answers the question, so well put by Mary Oliver in her poem The Summer Day: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?”
There is a process to discovering your dharma which involves understanding your gifts, embracing your uniqueness and identifying what it means to fulfill your distinct purpose. This comes from tapping into the voice of your soul and understanding how our desires both material and spiritual and our longing for pleasure and liberation manifest. Our greatest power lies within and it is from here that we can realize our potential.
Once you identify your dharma, you need to figure out how to get there.
In yoga, we call these steps, or resolutions, sankalpa. The word sankalpa breaks down into san, meaning, from the heart and kalpa, meaning, unfolding over time. It is the next most important step you can take in achieving your dharma. These aren’t meant to be pie in the sky ideals. They are the nuts and bolts, practical steps that will work to liberate your greater purpose.
It won’t all be smooth sailing, you’ll encounter resistance, both external and internal, but with a sankalpa that is about the greater purpose of your life and not just about what you want short term, you have a better shot at staying the course.
So, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?