Anti New Year’s Resolutions

On the eve before New Year’s Day my father will check himself into the hospital. He will be undergoing 2 relatively standard heart procedures. These are, however, precursors to finding out if a heart bypass is necessary. Needless to say no operation is fun especially on the very last day of the year. When my dad asked me what I would be doing it struck me that the whole end of the year thing is over-rated and commercialized like Christmas. I replied with something like, “I don’t believe in the new Year hype. I think it’s more important what you do every day during the whole year rather than focusing on one particular night.”

That said, there is a lot of pressure around this time of year to clean up your act and set new goals. I wonder how many people have achieved them or fell short and gradually let the rest of the year slide. Any resolution we make should be made for the whole year and not a well intended ‘to do’ list that gets stuck in first gear.  

Instead of creating another list here are 4 things for the entire year. Because when we talk about a resolution for the year we should be talking about a resolution for life.

1. Smile

The first time I brought my newborn baby to the mirror was during an intense fussy period.  I was amazed when he took a moment to recognize himself and after a brief pause actually smiled.  It wasn’t a shy grin either but a real ear to ear “hey, that’s me and I like me.” As frustrating as it was for me (a new mom) to figure out how to handle a fussy baby, it reminded me of how we each have the power and the ability to look at ourselves and say, ‘hey, that’s me and I like me.” If a baby can do this I am positive we can do the same and learn from this shining example of built-in self-esteem, as well as self-approval.  

2. Reflect

Modern life certainly has left this out of the packaging. Everything appears like a quick-fix with the underlying message, “you need to move faster.” There are practices both in Yoga and Buddhism that stress the importance of regular reflection. Thai Forest Monk Ajahn Chah said there were 30 days in the month and 2 of these days should be used for retreat from your daily routine. It shouldn’t be that you don’t have time or cannot afford to do so. Isn’t that you can’t afford ‘not’ to do it? Perhaps the better question is how. How to reflect? Read on.

3. Be Calm

If you don’t know how to meditate, breathe or concentrate now is a good time to find out how. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to learn these skills. In fact, all teachers will tell you meditation cannot be 'taught'; it is an experience. You can, however, learn the skill of sitting, hand positions, a mantra and other techniques to enhance your knowledge and ability. Swami Veda Bharati (a disciple of the late Swami Rama) advises a 2-minute daily session. Whether you are sitting at a desk, behind a steering wheel or pushing a baby cart you can take 2 minutes to breathe, close your eyes and go within.

4. Recharge

With heavy work schedules, family obligations, personal goals, plans and business pursuits, it is definitely hard to fit it all in. And then there is supposed to be time to relax? One of the wisest things I ever read was by author Robert Sharma who said when people believe they don’t have time to smell the roses it’s like driving your car and never stopping for gas.  Obviously no one does this, but we often neglect ourselves. Take the time to exercise, go for a walk, hang out with friends or do something you love or like as a way to recharge yourself. It’s the same as stopping at the station to fill up.   

In 2014, throw away your 'to-do-it' list and instead make these 4 things your everyday plan for a happier and more balanced life. 

The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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