Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking Forward

Since I am a huge mythology geek (and very proud of it, thank you), I always think of Janus when I turn the calendar page to January.  Janus is a figure from ancient Roman mythology, a god who is always shown with two faces, one looking backwards and one looking forward.  (This is, of course, where the month of January gets its name.)  He is the god of gates, doorways, beginnings, and ending.

I just learned something else about Janus, thanks to Wikipedia!  Apparently, lots of theology scholars have drawn comparisons between Janus and Ganesha, the awesome Hindu god with the elephant head, because they are both the guardians of gates and they are both associated with beginnings.  More specifically, Ganesha is the "Destroyer of Obstacles," which I guess explains why he is so popular.  So now I am thinking of Ganesha, too.

That was a bit of a tangent, but I thought it was interesting!

I'm interested in Janus and Ganesha and beginnings because, well, the beginning of the new year is the traditional time for such musings and it seems like a fitting moment for them.  Intention-setting can be done at any time of year, of course, but it's always a good exercise!  And if you do it like you mean it, it can have pretty significant results.  (Hello, law of attraction!)

I've made great resolutions, I've made lousy resolutions, and sometimes I've skipped making resolutions altogether.  For years, as a teenager, I would always resolve to stop eating junk food and lose 5 pounds.  (Don't even ask me why I wanted to lose 5 pounds!)  So on New Year's Eve, I would eat whatever junk food was available, and then on New Year's Day I would call it quits.  Since I made this resolution every single year, I'm sure you can guess just how successful it was.  (Not at all.)  But then... one year, in a fit of brilliance and inspiration, I made a different resolution.  I resolved to never go on another diet again.

That was probably six years ago now, and it's the one resolution that I've never broken.  The next year, I didn't need to make any resolutions at all.

Why am I thinking of that story now?  I guess because the "resolution" can work in two different ways.  One on hand, you can use it as a weapon against yourself.  It can become an excuse to find all the things that you think are wrong with you and vow to change them.  And then you set yourself up for failure, because you set the bar higher than you can ever reach, always striving for some unrealistic ideal.  Or... you can make your resolutions manageable and healthy.  Resolve to do things that will make you happier and set goals that you can actually achieve!  If your goals are aligned with your genuine well-being, then they will be easy to achieve, because they will feel natural and right.

This year, this month, I feel like I am at a pivot point.  Instead of trying to get somewhere, I am learning to enjoy being somewhere, which is a real paradigm shift.  And now that I am more or less committed to staying in one area, there are all kinds of things that I want to do.  On New Year's Eve, I was telling one of the other teachers about all my "resolutions" for the year: I'm going to paint my room, re-organize the kitchen, get more plants for the house, clean up the entryway, fix the feng shui (I bought a book)....  He laughed at me and said, "Those aren't resolutions, that's your to-do list!"  Okay, fine, that's a good point. But I'm still excited about doing all those things!  I want to create a good environment around myself where I can really do my best.  I'd like an environment that makes it easier for me to listen to good music, relax, cook more, read more, write more.  I already have bought a new bed frame, so I am no longer sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and I'm going to Home Depot today for paint!

My one huge resolution is that I want to get out more and meet people who aren't my yoga students.  You can hold me to that!  New Year's Resolution for Juliana: Get Out and Meet People Other Than Yogis.  I love you all to death, but I need a real social life!

I am very proud to say that I have already taken steps towards achieving this goal!  I went out last night (by myself) to go swing dancing!  It was great.  There's a group in my city that hosts dances (with drop-in lessons) every Monday and Friday night, and it's a really cool crowd.  There are lots of great dancers, along with lots of enthusiastic newbies, it's a fun young crowd, you meet tons of people, and the dancing is great fun.  I had fun watching the really good dancers at the end of the night, and I told the guy next to me, "Okay, that is my goal for next year!"  I think that I might have to sign up for the actual lesson series in a couple of months.  There's a series that starts tomorrow night, but it definitely conflicts with teaching.  Oh well... let's not get carried away yet!  I can easily see this becoming a new addiction...

As far as yoga goes, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing.  (Hah.  Those of you who have been through posture clinics will understand the joke there!)  I've gotten lots of good feedback on my teaching recently, so I know that I am pointed in the right direction, and I'm just going to keep moving forward!  I have a couple of goals regarding advanced postures, but that's nothing new.  I did make New Year's resolutions for my students - you know, so-and-so needs to lock their knee, so-and-so needs to get up higher in cobra, everyone needs to kick out - so... look out for me!!  (Please picture me cackling gleefully as I say that.)  I told my students in class that the only resolution they need to make is to show up.  "If you've been coming once a week, try coming twice a week.  If you've been coming twice a week, see if you can come three times a week.  If you've been coming every day... *dramatic pause*... maybe you should take a day off!"

That goes for all of you, too!  Don't bite off more than you can chew, don't beat yourself up over what's past, and don't set yourself up for failure.  Just send up a little good thought to Janus, Ganesh, Buddha, God, or any other "Destroyer of Obstacles" who you like, and then keep moving forward.  Gently, confidently, joyfully, keep looking forward towards more happiness in your life.

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