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The Yogic Way of Forming New Habits and Breaking Old Ones

The Yogic Way of Forming New Habits and Breaking Old Ones


    Some want to change certain habits in them, break the pattern and find new ground. They try to follow discipline, adopt everything they can to stay motivated including writing journals, meditation, reading self-help books and so forth, and yet they seem to make little progress, if any. They keep going back to square one before they give up eventually. Why are habits so hard to break? Or, why is it difficult to form new habits? They are serious, sincere, committed, yet they are unable to live the life they can or they so want to.

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    Your consciousness, your life is an aggregate of proclivities and psychic imprints that have been traveling with you over lifetimes. They make you who you are. It is for this reason that even identical twins can have different preferences, they may think and  behave differently. Everything you do and experience in life leaves an imprint on your consciousness, on your mind. These imprints form your habits. The best way to break old habits or form new ones is to wipe these imprints and create new ones. Let me share a little story with you:

    There was a guy called Bo. A high level executive, in his mid-forties, working for a large organization. Bo had a happy family with a loving wife and two kids. However, he was often battered by episodes of shooting pain in his right knee and wild mood swings. He was physically fit, all medical reports were fine. Nothing could explain his knee-ache. As for the mood swings, they happened even when he was on a vacation, when there was no stress of work. To make matters worse, he experienced it more in a public setting. When in such state, Bo often said things that hurt his wife and damaged their relationship. He would later apologize but the impact of apology almost vanished, for, the pattern of verbal bashing and subsequent apologizing seemed intertwined and constant.

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    They tried many things without success. One lucky day, they came across a genuine healer. He advised them to recall and narrate the major incidents of his life, especially those where he experienced grief and pain, physical or mental. A few hours later, they had figured out the cause of his sudden appearance of physical pain and mood swings. It turned out that Bo was bullied in school. One particular time, a bully gave him a nasty blow on his right knee with a baseball bat. The blow did not break his knee but he cried out loud in excruciating pain. His wailing and howling immediately got the attention of many and he was promptly given medical aid. The bully was expelled from the school and no one ever pestered him thereafter.

    However, that experience had found a permanent home in Bo’s mind. Whenever he passed through the markets, if he saw a baseball bat or even any memorabilia linked to that sport, he experienced pain in the knee. It all happened in the subconscious mind; he was unaware. Shouting became his coping mechanism. His mood swings were triggered at the sighting of anything linked to baseball, especially the bat.

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    Habits are spontaneous responses. They spring from your memory. Yoga sutras state that memory is the unmodified collection of words and experiences. If you work on erasing those imprints, you can get rid of any habit. There are two simple ways you can adopt to erase your psychic imprints, there’s a yogic method and there’s an intellectual one. You can read up on both methods here.

    When you are angry, negative, pessimistic, paranoid, it means you are hurt somewhere deep within you. It means that untoward experiences of the past have not been forgotten yet, that, you still haven’t forgiven yourself or the other person, that, you are still not healed. They are merely the symptoms of a wounded consciousness. You can heal yourself. Such healing will give you a clean slate.

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    Not everything that happens to you is your fault. Allow yourself to be yourself. Heal yourself so you may be the person you wish to be, living the life of your dreams.

    (Photo credit: Road on the Sky via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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