The new year has arrived, and with it, many people are making resolutions… this year I’ll quit smoking, quit drinking, go to the gym, lose weight, eat more veggies… all the stuff. Each of us knows we have a little bit of room to improve, and in the spirit of new beginnings, we use the New Year’s holiday as a bridge toward the new and improved us. Part of the story of New Year’s resolutions is that many people make them without having much intention on keeping them; many of us enter into these resolutions knowing that they are a joke. And so life goes on…

not bad…imag0163

…just the same

The second yama(restraint/ethic) is satya (truthfulness). To make a resolution requires a certain amount of reflection and truthfulness because we cannot wish to see a change, even half heartedly, if we did not first find an area upon which to improve. Unfortunately, if the truth only goes into the exploration stage, without action, we might be left ruminating over the same worries or concerns that caused us to have the initial spark of inspiration to grow.

I remember my teacher once said, “never lie, but especially never lie to yourself. If you are honest with yourself, if you keep every promise you make to yourself, you will learn to be more careful with your thoughts and your words. You will learn to depend upon yourself, and always know that you are true.” Satya is to be so honest with our thoughts, that our words and actions all are true. For this reason, I like to begin all of my classes with a sankalpa.

A sankalpa is an intention, a small (or grand) promise to oneself. The sankalpa can be a physical goal, a spiritual goal, a balance goal, even to dedicate the fruits of one’s practice. No matter the intention, when we begin practice with a sankalpa, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and make a small vow that we know we can keep. Like stairs leading us to a higher place, these sankalpas serve as our steps toward our greatest self. We gather these small truths into our minds, over days, months, years of practice; we integrate the truths into who we are, and we digest them. We become the truth.