Whoever you are, you’ve most likely made New Year’s Resolutions before, and wrestled with the acts of fulfilling them; and you’ve probably had some success with fulfilling them—for a time.
Whoever you are, you’ve probably known the plop of defeat, the weight of guilt, the sting of shame, and the bite behind as the old habit sneaks back in and sets to holding your goals and dreams hostage, holding your health or relationships for ransom.
You may have made deals and bets and vows and promises, with yourself, your spouse, your friend, your god, your devil, your soul.
You may have put out a lot of money at a gym, or on a diet product, or on a new age transformational healing programme, and been sold on the idea of a quick fix.
You may have got wise to the gimmicks and elixirs and exhaustions of the quick fix, and just hunkered down, girded your loins, and dug in for the long haul, making yourself and everyone else around you miserable as you stuck to your vow and browbeat positive change into your old habit.
Some of you may have given up trying by now.
It’s not that any personal growth intervention or a combination of them don’t or can’t work. It’s that we fall into other old habits that are different and deeper than the habit we want to change, and that in fact support the habit we want to change. We fall into our subtle sure-fail practices. We lose interest, lose energy, lose patience, lose faith. We slip up once and beat ourselves down. We begin on a high, but don’t prepare for the low. We get stuck in either/or splits. We forget how it is to walk in the mud with boots too big. We insist on a sprint toward success. We delude ourselves into believing that anyone who has succeeded must have some special magic in their footfall, and that we ourselves do not.
It’s also because we haven’t been taught the key state of mind and heart essential to stimulate and consolidate the deepest change for the better.
The best working recipe that I know for stopping an old habit and creating a new one includes tried and true practices of truly ancient origin, modified for our times, but still totally rooted in our nervous system, coded into our DNA, and directed at real change.
These key tools are: quiet mind, good intention, repetition, and commitment (or devotion).
And the practices that teach these tools and use these tools to effect transformational change are old practices that go by names like: meditation, hypnosis, creative visualization, prayer.
We’re designed to change. We’ve evolved through change and with change as individuals and as a species. We are adaptable, teachable, flexible. These meditative practices when done repeatedly, in quiet mind, and with an attitude of lovingkindness toward one’s self, work with the subconscious itself.
The subconscious is almost our entire being and it’s the storehouse of everything we are and have been. Much of it was born with us. And a lot of it got taught into us by the examples and practices of everyone and everything in our lives. The practices I’ve mentioned actually reach into the neural structure of the brain and repattern the neural grooves that represent a particular subconscious bias or pattern or belief.
The subconscious is deeply suggestible. The brain is remarkably fluid. We can change old habits by reaching in and changing the old belief biases that neuroscience sees as particular neural patterns. And these ancient healing practices are the practices that work toward changing the set neural structures, that is, the primary subconscious beliefs that hold that neural structure in place.
Whoever you are, you can always begin again. Ours is not a caravan of despair, as Rumi says. Most of us have broken a vow. We are each only ever beginning again, every day, every breath, every moment.