It’s a blanket assumption, but one that likely rings true—most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to particular rhythms, and breaking free of those rhythms is one of life’s more enduring challenges.
This wouldn’t be open for discussion if those habits were of the life-fulfilling, soul-quenching, adventure-ridden variety, but alas, they’re often not. They’re more likely mindless entertainment and short-shrift gratification, combined with a typical daily and weekly flow.
If you (like me) have habits that circulate in the aforementioned realm, then you know it can be excruciatingly difficult to break into a yoga or meditation practice, mindful lifestyle, or anything that would be constituted as “new” and invigorating.
This isn’t revelatory territory—breaking habits iswell documented as a life challenge evidenced by its place in the self-improvement aisles at your favorite bookstore.
Yet, the challenge persists…how do we transcend our habitual tendencies to make room for yoga and the other endeavors that promise to improve our lives? Here are 3 suggestions for transcending the norm and taking on new activity.
1. One Brick at a Time
If you’re just beginning a yoga or meditation practice (or any endeavor), it’s worth remembering that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting somewhere in anything is essentially an exercise in persistence. Nothing gets accomplished instantly, so take it easy on your self.
Each day will present its own challenge for maintaining a practice, and some days it’s only possible to lay a single brick (a morning sun salutation for example) to keep the intention going. Remember this as the day moves on and when it seems unlikely to carve out 45 minutes or an hour for a full asana routine.
One brick at a time.
2. It’s OK if You Didn’t Do It Today
I find one of the more vicious cycles in taking on new activity, is the self-judgment that arises out of missed opportunities, perceived laziness, etc.
If you’re unable (or unwilling) to get on your mat or your cushion today, try again tomorrow—without thinking about it. Just take tomorrow for what it is (in the context of your practice)…another opportunity for laying a brick.
3. Start With a Concrete Goal
It’s true,Rome didn’t get built in a day. But that doesn’t mean the vision of Rome (it feels like I need a new analogy at this point) didn’t exist as an everyday reality for the leaders of that movement.
Having the vision in mind makes it easier to lay the brick of each day. For example, a specific example might be to perform pinchamayurasana, a broad goal could be to practice yoga everyday, whereas a too-broad goal would be “I wish to become a yogi.”
There’s an obvious difference in the tone of these 3 examples that is likely to come into play when it comes time to summon the motivation to get on your mat. The more concrete the better when battling the monsters of habit.
One Final Point To Consider
Forming a new habit usually means breaking an old one. Similar to how energy works (new energy doesn’t get created, it simply changes from one form to another), habits must be displaced.
If you’re staring at the prospect of a yoga practice, it is worth considering first—what are you ready to say goodbye to in order to make room for what you’d like to welcome?
If you can’t answer that question with a full-body response, the slope of the mountain you’re about to climb might get completely vertical in the coming days. Set your self up for success, but also know what you’re willing to release.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you on your way.