Monday, January 3, 2011

Determinations Not Resolutions

This time of year everyone is making resolutions, cleaning house and taking stock. I, of course am doing the same. Trouble is, resolutions always fail me.

And it seems to me they fail everyone else. Over the week surrounding the holidays I was able to visit a number of greatly missed friends and family members. Of particular relevance to this is my friend T, a yoga instructor with whom I was able to spend a night where she was dog sitting and take a yoga class with. At the beginning of the class she spoke about sankalpas. Sankapla is a sanskrit word that basically means "will" "purpose" or "intention."

Resolutions are made because we feel something is wrong with us. We resolve to lose weight because we think we are fat. We want to get organized because we believe we are terrible slops, and so on. Each resolution holds in it a negative thought directed towards ourselves. Conceptualizing ourselves, and any desire for change in this manner will only lead us to disappointment.

A sankalpa is inherently positive, and focuses on the reasoning behind each wish or desire. It's about getting in touch with your wants. Rather than saying "I will never eat another cookie!" the thought becomes "When I am feeling stressed I will seek the root of that sadness rather than muffling it with sweets."

I related strongly to this concept as a practicing Nichiren Buddhist. The basis of this type of Buddhism could easily be summarized as "self-determination." Rather than self flagellation we seek to bring awareness to what is causing us pain and keeping us off our path and correct it by setting these determinations. Again, focusing on what I want in my life and not what I think is wrong or bad.

By conceiving of it in this fashion I am able to approach the new year with positive energy and am much more apt to stay on track rather than getting frustrated by not immediately shedding 20 lbs and stuffing my face with left over Holiday candy.

So, my determinations?

Most importantly, to expand my business.

I made a lot of really great inroads this past year and met some really wonderful people. I have my work for sale at Can Can Candy, Talking Leaves Books and Rustbelt Books. I opened my etsy shop and participated in 4 regional indie markets. I was able to find more sustainable ways of creating my work and this year I know it will only get better.

My business brings me a great deal of happiness and there are few things better than when someone walks away with something I made and a smile on their face. So, my sincerest thanks to those of you who help me make that a reality!

Personally? I want to take more time for myself and bring more attention to my own health and happiness. I will leave the specifics of how I might do that up to what I need or want on any given day. No more giving myself guilt about having a cookie or sleeping in if that's what I feel like I need to do.

So, what are your determinations/sankalpas for this year?

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