Coming in to a new year is an opening, there are many new years in a year, anniversaries, birthdays, school years, celebrations and festivals moments that mark a return to a place within a cycle. January 1st is one of those that is well entrenched in western psyche, I don't know if it is as big a deal in other cultures. Towards the end of 2015 I began to think of new years resolutions, this is something I've done for years, it's a common tradition and a decade or so back my resolutions would be things like paint bathroom, fix gutters, tidy house, listen to more music, learn a language .. you catch my drift. Slowly over time I took on less tick boxy goals and started to think about who I wanted to be so one year I recall I wanted to be more disciplined, often I ask myself to be kinder or softer. These things took me towards the place I'm at now where my resolutions lean into sankalpa, a notion I came across last year through one of my yoga teachers. A sankalpa is a setting of intention. An intention is, to me, more fluid than my old resolutions which bore more resemblance to a business plan. Both these forms are useful but whilst a business plan tends to set my sights firmly in the future my sankalpa offers me respite and inspiration in the space I am currently occupying. That space is not really limited by time. The sankalpa I set myself last year will, I know, continue to be a source for me. The sharp measuring of time is a peculiarly human thing I think, the more creature I become, the more my time is mapped out by day and night, by light, by weather, by flowers and birdsong and stars, by fox calls, feelings and scents in the air.
The beginning of the roman calendar in january feels like a deep sigh, another year is done, another christmas has passed, winter may not quite be over but the days are starting to lengthen and the timbre of the birdsong slightly shifts.
For the past couple of years or so one of my lovely yoga teachers has marked certain turning points in the year with what she calls a "yoga immersion". This involves getting up at the crack of dawn for a week of yoga classes. The immersions really do what the name says. They are a dip in an ocean. An ocean of universal being. They are wake and shine experience that I'd recommend to anyone.
Living on the east side of Britain, I'm not in close contact with an ocean but I am not far from the North Sea. The sea is really where I find my home, for some it is mountains, or rivers, or woodlands, and all these places are wonderful but it is when salt and sand hit my nose and the sound of waves fills my ears that I find my deepest sense of belonging. So I figured that after a week of immersing myself in yoga, a long-craved beach walk was in order.