Often in our lives we feel inspired to “turn a new leaf.” We are inspired to reassess our past and readjust or even radically transform our goals, intentions or some other aspect of our articulated self. Sometimes this happens during a time of transition, and other times this happens during a time of stagnation. Sometimes it happens on our yoga mat, sometimes it happens when we’re working in our garden ~ and sometimes it just happens.
In our secular world, the New Year’s resolution is the most widely acknowledged expression of intentional change, but in Judaism, and in many other religious and cultural realms, there are a far greater number of encouragements and opportunities to reflect, to renew and to move forward with intention.
Jews have Rosh Hashanah, our own new year. We also have Rosh Chodesh, a monthly opportunity to turn a new leaf. We have Shabbat, a weekly opportunity to reflect and renew. If one is more traditional, we say prayers of thanksgiving and intention throughout the day.
In Yoga, too, every time we step onto our mat is an opportunity to turn a new leaf. It’s an opportunity to practice, to recognize what we’ve cultivated in the past as we pursue the benefits of a brighter future. Each pose builds on the next and prepares us for the one to follow, just as when we raise children, each day inevitably teaches and brings new opportunities to teach intentionally, to learn and to grow, each action and reaction informing the ones that will follow.
Interestingly, often intentional change is accompanied by a “break” from the past, an effort perhaps to toss away prior trouble. But that just isn’t how human beings work.
We are evolving beings, and we remember, for good and for ill, consciously and unconsciously. Our past has molded and shaped who we are, and our past informs how we mold and shape our future. It is up to us to recognize the value of all that has contributed to who and how we are and then to make those choices that help us to create the life we want. Every choice takes us closer to or farther from our highest intention.
As evolving beings with the power to exercise choice, we don’t have to wait until December 31st to set intentions and to resolve to turn a new leaf. We can do it every month, every week, every day and in any given moment.