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I so often see people attending seminars or reading books on self-help or doing yoga and/or meditation and expecting life to change for them. When does real change happen?
Many people get caught in the trap that doing all these things is enough. Have you ever read a self-help book with a pen or highlighter and underlined almost everything because it was written just for you? But then, nothing in life really changed? Or read the book so slowly as to integrate all the information, all the pearls of wisdom, only for nothing to happen?
A lesson in RepetitionWhen I left New York I had a lot of stuff to go through to either bring home with me or leave behind. One day I decided to do a ceremony for all my journals I had written over the four years there – there must have been about nine of varying sizes. I couldn’t burn them in my teeny tiny Manhattan apartment, so I intended to tear them all up into tiny pieces! But I was super attached and started reading them all. To my horror, they all said the same thing! The same personal shortcomings and the aggravations were repeated over the four years in New York, only the names and scenarios changed. My mouth gaping, I realised that despite the excellent technique of journaling, I had shifted absolutely nothing (perhaps that is the technique, to see one’s stuff repeating itself on paper?). So I tore up all my journals, save a few pages and resolved not to journal again but rather to do something about it…
This is how change happens, by changing something. Einstein said: 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.' In practical terms, it IS completely insane to keep having the same arguments or discussions, with yourself or others, and expecting something in the relationship to change.
In yoga philosophy we are taught about samskaras or grooves in the mind. These are created through repetitive thinking patterns or habits. Like a sculptor slowly chipping away at stone to create a form, so we slowly create mental grooves that become our habitual internal dialogue. We have and continue to create our life experience. Once our record is set, all our record player can play is the tune we have created. If you have been creating hard rock it will be impossible to suddenly listen to classical music without changing the record. Changing the record will show you that all life is changing, and help you to flow in that uncertainty. Yoga and meditation are tools of awareness that can help you to eradicate the addiction to your familiar state of being, but with the awareness comes the need to respond, to change the habit of how you respond to life’s experiences.
SO how to change the hard rock head-banging experience into what I am trying to allude to as a more peaceful experience of the internal dialogue? Get on the metaphoric yoga mat, practise yoga daily with an awareness of how you are and who you are on the mat, to see yourself in a safe space and understand what is happening off the mat – your life.
Take responsibilityThe only way to change something is to know what needs changing. So if you wish to improve your life toward happiness, you have to find out what is making you unhappy, you have to explore the habit patterns of the life you are creating through your thoughts, intention, words and actions. I can guarantee you it is not your lover, or friends or family making you unhappy. The simple answer is, you are making yourself unhappy!
Thoughts sculpt youDo you notice how much you invest in the thoughts that upset you? Do you notice how often thoughts come by that inform you of the truth of your demise – how you simply just aren’t worth it? Have you noticed how your thoughts are random and often incomplete and irrelevant and completely not self-serving?
Somewhere along the line we have deemed everything we think as the TRUTH. If it passes through my mind it must be true right? If I can think it, it makes it so. If I have perceived it, it must mean that it is correct. Our thoughts create our reality, but we have the intellect, and the ability of discretion to CHOOSE our own thoughts.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but transformed. Thoughts are energy, thinking them gives them weight. Thinking creates the backdrop of the sculpture you create that is you. What you think is what you become, is the life you create.
Implementing these tools shifts your perspective, and as a daily practice of physical asana will build strength in your body, it will also develop your self-inquiry and your strength to see what is going wrong in the unimportant layers of your personality, and help you to let those attachments go. This allows you to respond from a place of security and love rather than react to defend ‘yourself’ from real or imagined threats.
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