January is a month that feels anticlimactic. Coming on the heels of December’s festivities, it can leave us feeling cold and bleak – much like the weather. This is in stark contrast to the energy and extroverted nature of December, complete with frenzied social mingling, and numerous opportunities for overindulgence. Often during the holidays, we allow ourselves to go to excesses we would not consider at other times of the year.Like the morning after hangover, January is the somber antithesis to December's pomp and gaiety. Click To Tweet
January = Time to Take Stock
For me, January is a great time to hibernate, as the cold weather and dark days usually force me to stay indoors anyway. Perhaps this is why I naturally feel drawn to look inwards, and why many of us feel the need to make changes in our lives at the start of the new year. Personally, I like to take stock of things like my health and my career goals as well as my messy closets and my (ahem) cluttered desk.
Finding ways to cultivate space – in our hearts, our bodies, and our homes can be important on many levels. Clearing the space around us gives us a chance for a new perspective. We are able to see things from a new angle or consider a different solution. This can be useful when we want to change our approach to our diet, a (bad) habit, or a relationship. Resolutions give us a chance to formally commit to making that change in our life. By stating our new goals, we can more easily release old habits and emotions and embrace new patterns. Sadly, the term “resolution” has become tainted for most these days and it often implies something we fail to finish. That is why I prefer to use a different concept entirely.
I first heard the term described in a yoga class. Sukha is a Sanskrit term that can be explained as pleasure, ease, or virtue. Another way to define sukha is by breaking it down into its root words of “Su” (good) and “kha” (space). Therefore sukha can be defined as “good space.” When we meditate or turn our attention inwards, we are striving to quiet out minds and cultivate sukha from within. Now for those who do not meditate regularly, this need not be a foreign concept. For many, January is the only time of year in which they engage in something similar to this, via new year’s resolutions.
So how does sukha apply to a month like January?
As I’ve already stated, we naturally tend to focus our attention inwards at this time. After a month dedicated to thinking of others, it’s time to give some attention to ourselves. For some, this may be a focus on physical health goals, while for others it is on areas of spiritual or emotional health. Whatever your personal goals may be, cultivating sukha can be an important factor in achieving them.
There is a belief that the idea of sukha or “good space” refers to the hole in the center of a chariot wheel. If it is not perfectly centered, the ride would be rough and bumpy as a result. Therefore, having a perfectly centered space was ideal. I try to remember this as I focus on my goals for the new year. The more open and centered I am to my new goals, the smoother the transition will be as I let go of the old ones.
Have you already lost momentum on your resolutions? Don’t feel bad – just know that you are hitting a few bumps, but that they can easily be smoothed out. Take a moment to reconnect with yourself and focus on why you wanted to make those changes in the first place. Find your center, and know that you can never truly be sure that you are making a change unless you somehow test your resolve. When you hit a bump, it’s just a test to see if you are still committed to the new path. The faster you acknowledge this, the fewer bumps you will hit along the way.
Why wait for Spring to start Cleaning?
January is a perfect time for decluttering in general. It offers an opportunity to analyze the use of space in our homes. As a workaholic myself, I know how easy it can be to lose sight of the space around me. Clutter starts to build up in the corners around the house, and before you know it you don’t know where to sit or step anymore. Spring cleaning is poorly named because for me, springtime is too late! As the warm weather returns my focus inevitably turns outwards; to the external. I know I will want to be outside again, not cooped up inside any longer. The time for internal retrospection will be over.
So let January be a welcome time to focus on ourselves and our immediate surroundings. I choose not to make resolutions but rather to use this month as a time to reconnect with my goals, my home and my family, and most importantly, myself.