By Heather Van Dalfsen, MEd, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT
Habits are always of interest to me. Even though they are part of our human experience, many of us move through life and our habits on ‘cruise control,’ a subconscious auto-pilot, where we don’t stop to see, hear and feel what is happening.
There are some days we pause. The infamous New Year’s Eve. When we are inundated to at least try at the dawn of every new year to launch the creation of a new habit or resolve a current habit.
Habit: A routine of behavior that is repeated regularly
Intention: Commitment to carrying out an action, creating a plan.
So when do we have time to pause and take ourselves off of ‘cruise control’ to review our habits? If that occurs then what happens next?
The reality is habits and intentions are influenced by so many layers of our life.
LAYERS: Gary Kraftsow, Yoga Therapist and Founder of the American Viniyoga Institute explores this through a model that invites you to review your habits through the layers of your:
Thoughts, Behavior, Mood
INTERCONNECTED: Even though this can be a lot to process, all these layers of our life are interconnected, giving us many entry points – doorways ‘in’ to continue reflecting, learning and transforming ourselves.
How do we take ourselves off ‘cruise control?’
LESS IS MORE – Start small. So small that you are able to take a few minutes each day to engage in something from the list below
BE KIND – To yourself. Everyday. This is an ongoing practice and a foundational powerhouse that is always on your side
MOVE – Many experts in the field of ‘Habits’ encourage movement
- Walk, dance, do yoga, gardening…what interests you?
- Most movement offers individuals the opportunity to sharpen their attention and be mindful of what they see, hear and feel
THE WORLD OF APPS – While this would seem to be the antithesis of movement, it can offer a fresh perspective on this topic
- When you take the time to research ‘Apps to Support Habit Change’ the options are plentiful
- Some are witty, one was created by a Nobel Prize winner, while others are complex, many offer an efficient way to zoom in on your short and long term intentions and systematize your progress
WRITE IT DOWN – Whether using your computer or pen and paper, anchor this time of writing with an existing ritual – while drinking your coffee, before or after your movements or yoga practice, during a pause to eat a piece of chocolate
- Create a ‘home base’ to support your ritual of documenting your thoughts, observations, intentions
Some questions to keep you curious and engaged:
- ‘In this season of life what are my habits of speech, actions, thoughts?
- ‘What habits serve me well at this time as I navigate life? What habits are not as helpful at this time?’
- ‘What could I add to my daily routine? What could I take away?’
- ‘What supports me in this review, planning and actions of my life?’
MORNING: Take a minute in the morning to write down a word or phrase that sets the intention and tone for yourself and what you are focused on for the day.
EVENING: Write down words or phrases that ‘distill the essence’ of your day. You could even use the list of layers shared earlier, writing down what you observed about your interaction with co-workers, family and most importantly, yourself!
MUSIC & MANTRA – Sing, hum, silently create sound in your mind
- A centuries old strategy that can support your body, nervous system, mind and emotions and this current momentum of life
- Mantra to support a powerful, short practice – SA TA NA MA
- Translation: SA-Birth, TA-Life, NA-Death, MA-Rebirth
- Add movement as you say or sing the mantra – palms open
- As you say/sing SA – Thumb and first finger touch
- As you say/sing TA – Thumb and middle finger touch
- As you say/sing NA – Thumb and ring finger touch
- As you say/sing MA – Thumb and last finger touch
- Repeat to create a shift from ‘cruise control’
Now take a deep beath. As always this is an ongoing practice. So, what caught your attention within the words and strategies shared here? There is so much more to explore, learn and integrate when it comes to habits. For now trust you are in good company with this process.
And…Don’t forget to grab a big piece of your favorite chocolate!