Do not be led by others,
awaken your own mind,
amass your own experience,
and decide for yourself your own path
The timeless wisdom in the ancient Vedic texts give us specific advice for how to live a long, happy, and healthy life. The new year is the perfect time for you to check in with yourself about your health, your direction, and where you place your attention.
We’ve all heard that the new year is the best time to set out in the creation of a new you – but what if we told you that learning to embrace the true you is even more powerful? We’re sharing four tips from an Ayurvedic perspective to help you enter the New Year as the best version of yourself!
Tip #1: Focus your attention on the now
In Ayurveda, it is considered a source of disease to focus too much on what you want whilst ignoring your current blessings. The new year often perpetuates a sense of needing to upgrade certain aspects of your life in order to find happiness. But according to Ayurveda, happiness – and all of your emotions – are always going to be in flux.
We want to spin this idea of wanting more on its head – bring in the new year by taking inventory of all of the wonderful things that have already presented themselves on your journey. Are you healthy? Can you provide shelter, food, and clothing for your family? If so – you’re more successful than a large portion of the population. While happiness can be fleeting, gratitude offers renewable joy.
Instead of setting goals this new year to attain happiness, what if you made a commitment instead to cultivate a practice of gratitude? From this perspective, you might find your goals themselves change, and that’s a good thing! Your goals now are not what they were in the past, and they will continue to evolve with you.
Tip #2: Embrace the uniqueness that is you
Have you ever been told that you’re one of a kind? According to Ayurveda, everyone truly is! The principle of Prakriti, or one’s nature, explains to us that everyone has a unique individual constitution. Individual constitution includes both physical, emotional and mental traits. The whole human – mind, body and spirit – constitutes a person’s Prakriti.
Your Prakriti is made up of the same elements that everything in the universe is made up of – but the way the different elements come together to make you is 100% individualized. Remember this when working on your goals this new year!
One way to begin to embrace your unique self is to learn about your Prakriti according to traditional Ayurvedic science.
Since your Prakriti is a unique combination of the elements in the universe, by studying these elements, their properties and nature, it is easier to observe and accept the self.
For example, you may be self critical about your tendency to forget or run late to appointments even though you have the best of intentions each time. According to Ayurveda, if you have a predominance of air and ether or water and earth elements, it is likely that you might be forgetful or run a bit slower than others. Perhaps some of your loved ones have already accepted this about you and send additional reminders, or tell you to arrive earlier than they need you.
We don’t judge the elements for being true to themselves, and so we can’t judge ourselves. Instead of feeling ashamed about your differences, explore them!
Tip #3: Follow your Dharma, or your unique life path
Dharma artha kama mokshānām ārogyam mulam uttamam
This Sanskrit verse explains that there are four goals of life. Health is both a prerequisite and a result of pursuing these four goals, which include:
- Kama: your more active, momentary, and daily experiences of life’s joy
- Artha: an outer expression of your life purpose and includes the material expression of prosperity
- Dharma: inner codes of conduct
- Moksha: liberation
Each of these four goals hold so much wisdom when it comes to creating a future. Kama, Artha and Dharma all have a role in expressing our values, though they are experienced at different levels of our consciousness. Dharma can be understood as the deeper guidelines of life supporting Kama and Artha. Dharma includes your progression between life stages, career development and community influence. Focusing on your Dharma during this particular time can assist your new year transition as it’s tied to your most sacred values. While fundamental values such as love, respect and tradition are common to many individuals, there is a particular focus and specific path for you that is unique to expressing your personal Dharma: it’s about following your heart.
What does your heart long to explore? For most of us, these inner codes begin to express themselves when we are children. Some are called to paint, others to work with children, or rehabilitate wildlife. It’s easy to get caught up in the surface achievements of life as benchmarks of success, but it’s truly the deeper commitment to your family, career and community which fulfill you. The commitments which allow your heart to expand are your most fruitful pursuits, and now is a beautiful time to acknowledge them and recommit.
Tip #4: Manifest your 2022 goals in tune with nature’s elements
The new year in the Northern Hemisphere falls in the middle of the winter season, just after the winter solstice. The solar energy has just shifted from the release period (Visarga) , with a predominance of cooling moon , to the accumulation period (Adana), with heating sun energy .
This time of year marks a shift from decreasing to increasing activity, which can be felt by the joyful reception of the new year. Although the near year holiday occurs overnight, the shift from winter’s stagnant and rooted energetics to the lighter, accelerated energy of spring is a gradual transition.
This time of year corresponds to the Vata Dosha in Ayurveda, which has qualities of
Though these qualities may seem like it’s the perfect time to kick things into gear, according to Ritucharya or seasonal guidelines, this is still the season for slowing down. Now is the time for nurturing and nourishing on all levels. Plants retreat into their roots and animals are less active, focusing their energy on sustaining their vital energies without overextending. Vata is also the Dosha of extremes and potential impulsiveness, so dramatic changes aren’t recommended yet — this will increase and aggravate Vata
In winter time we focus more on contemplation, reflection and inner work. It’s a poignant time for creating space for future growth, seed planting and groundwork. Slow and steady progress towards your goals will win out over sudden, unsustainable efforts.
The new year typically brings about a desire to better your routines and make healthy changes. While it can be tempting to follow the path of others, it’s important to keep in mind that you are unique, and so your journey will be unlike anyone else’s. What is healthy for your mind, body, and soul, may not serve the next person in the same way.
Instead of using the new year as motivation to make a “new you”, use the excitement of this time to embrace the current you.