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Make a Resolve?

Illustration by Jon Lander, originally on Words by Sally Lander

The extended relaxation Yoga Nidra is a big part of our practice in the classes. We do it most weeks in the Gentle classes and once or twice a term in the General ones. Towards the beginning and end of the Yoga Nidra we are encouraged to repeat our resolve in our heads. Many of us have found the resolve a useful and beautiful practice. I usually run quickly through the 'rules' for choosing a resolve -

  • It should be a short phrase

  • It should have a positive resonance for you

Then I sometimes give examples, most commonly

'I will be here now', sometimes expressed as 'I will be in the present moment'

'I will be at ease'

'I will find my resolve'

But I wanted to find a space to give more examples and to expand on the whole thing a little, from my experience and from that of some long-time exponents of the resolve. When I started using a resolve it was 'I will find my resolve' which quickly became 'I will be here now', which I used for many years. I believe that combined with my yoga and meditation practice it really did help me to feel I was inhabiting or embodying more of my moments more often, a really magical change.

Then when I had my most major empty nest crisis I switched to using 'I will be brave'. It was an instinctive change and I think it helped with our decision to leave Cambridge, where we'd lived since we were students and our home of 20 years to come all of the 12.8 miles to our present home in the village of Burwell. It may not seem much to you, but it was a big thing for us!

Once I was settled here my use of the resolve faded, and for several years I haven't had one; I usually say to myself 'I will find my resolve'. I've tried a few out, but nothing stuck. Then recently, while my father was coming to the end of his life with dementia and I was still not at all used to my mother having died (they lived to 95 and 93, and I was so lucky have them so long), something came along. It was also approaching one year since the scare I had with blood clots in my lungs, and I found the anniversary more challenging than I had expected. So, here's my present resolve:

'I will be happy,

I will be sad,

I will be me'

I think it's helping with the acceptance of all the moods and emotions. I do feel guilty for feeling as sad as I often do, and I do sometimes need encouragement to let the deep happinesses flow. The resolve represents an extra support for this.

Speaking of telling you all my resolves over the years brings me to one of the 'rules' I have never been happy to accept, which is 'Don't tell other people your resolve'. I find this unhelpful, as you can tell.

So I asked a group of students if they would be happy to share their ideas, and several important things emerged. One is that there is actually a choice of grammar, and it's your choice. I was taught to use 'I will' but in recent years this has been challenged by students, and many find 'I am' much more appropriate. Any other grammar that works for you would be fine too. I was taught to repeat one phrase, but for me and others, a flow of several lines can work well. I would also suggest if you have a phrase from another part of your life, for example a prayer, that may well be just the right thing for you.

Here are our examples:

Izzy said that during Covid she used 'I will get through this' and now uses 'I am love. I am peace. I am joy'

Hazel's is a very long-term resolve - 'I will be positive'

Roxane has been through a progression from 'I will be calm' in a time of extreme crisis through 'I will find peace' to 'I am enough'

Joyce's is - 'I will take care', which has a wonderful ambiguous wideness.

I love them all, and they absolutely reflect each personality. And that's the key, finding what works for you, including of course, not using a resolve at all.

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