At this writing, Padma and I are at Ananda Village near Nevada City, CA. I calculated that there is approximately 50 minutes more sunlight here in December than there is in Seattle!
And as much as one welcomes the sunshine when the days are short and the air is bone-chilling cold, so too does one welcome the time of rest and sleep after a long day in the company of two toddlers, our grandchildren!
Thus it is that we are part and parcel with the never-ending flux of light and dark, warm and cold! Have you ever noticed how much we tend to both enjoy and then complain of life's never-ending change?
Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in his now world-renowned life story ("Autobiography of a Yogi") that it is only when the individual soul awakens to the prospect of the "anguishing monotony of repeated rounds of birth, life, and death (replete with the three evils of mortal existence identified by Buddha: illness, old age, and death), that God sends a guru to guide the soul into the safe harbor of ego transcendence.
It is only in our own calm center that the "ineluctable quiddity" of life's unending flux can no longer touch us.
In the simplest terms of New Year's Resolutions, learning to be calm and even-minded "amidst the crash of breaking worlds" is the practical essence of the practice and the goal of yoga.
Yogananda counseled, "What comes of its own, let it come." This is not passivity; it is a combination of courage, faith, and even-minded cheerfulness.
But what we can change for the better by the application of our God-given will power (like diet, exercise and yoga), we should strive to achieve.
What gives New Year's resolutions a bad reputation is that the intention to "be good" is too often just a natural part of the "ineluctible quiddity" of yin and yang. Thus, by January's end the high hopes of our resolutions vanish like fog beneath the summer sun.
We suggest, then, that you bolster the power of your resolutions not by emotional intensity but by going to your calm center and feeling intuitively the value, the sustainability, and the truth of your intentions to live in harmony with your own (higher) nature.
To use a simple example of a resolution to eat a healthy diet, try visualizing the day-to-day reality of having fresh fruits and vegetables (as an example). Savor each bite and learn to re-train the palate to notice and enjoy the variety of natural flavors, textures, colors, and vitality inherent in fresh foods.
In vowing to meditate daily, tune into the natural pleasure and joy of being quiet, still, and self-aware: like the Rogers and Hammerstein song from the King & I, "Getting to Know You."
Imagine yourself becoming comfortable with your Self, enjoying the company of your soul's ever-wakeful, ever-blissful presence and guidance. Imagine basking in the smile of the guru's grace as a sparkling stream of inner peace, vitality and light.
Live more in the "space between words," the "space between activities," finding at your center a comfort, pleasure, and satisfaction born of Soul-experience.
When we live calmly, yet energetically too, our inner Self begins to guide us toward right thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Less and less must we be an ego-disciplinarian, constantly having to assess and judge ourselves (and everyone else) but, instead, living in the "flow of Brahma."
We hope and pray for all of us that the new year to come with find our souls, newly reborn with the inner Christ presence of Christmas shining ever brightly with truth and love.
Hriman and Padma are the spiritual directors of Ananda Washington and close friends of East West Bookshop. Hriman also has his own blog, where he shares spiritual thoughts weekly.