Practices to change and de-stress

Taking baby steps

Today I want to explore a little bit on how making “baby” steps, which have a huge benefit. The other method is making one bold change. How well did it work for you, and how long did you stay with that?

Some stuff from research concerning change: 

Concerning baby steps, I highly recommend the book “The 4-Day Win” of Martha Beck. She takes a method of changing habits in 4 days and applies it to how we think about food and our bodies, and how to improve your diet in a conscious way. You can apply her method to any other area of your life.

The team of Natalia Rose ( recommended this book. I am going to do with them my certification in nutrition and detox consulting this year. They also include baby steps for dealing with emotional stuff while changing, and knowledge about how to overcome physical addictions, e.g. craving for sugar. I like their approach, as they include “hard” and “soft” methods.

Martha Beck writes, that our subconscious thinks, that we are in a daily habit about anything as soon as we did something 4 days in a row. If you did something once, you say, I have done it once, if you do something up to 3 times it’s still sometime you did a couple of times, but once you pass this magical 4 days, you say for instance: “Yes, I am doing 10 minutes yoga stretching in the mornings”.

Then you do 5 rows of 4 days, and you get to 20 days, on the 21st day you already miss the new established pattern, if you would stop it right now. To have it really sink down into your system take the number of 40 from yoga.

For instance, you repeat a certain mantra 40 days if you engage in a spiritual practice. Taking it in chunks of 4 days seems to be a very workable number for many people.

Then also, don’t make it too hard. Take a goal that is ridiciously easy to achieve. Because the other goals, you already tried to do them, and maybe didn’t succeed. So maybe the goal “no coffee anymore” is giving you real stress, but the goal “2 cups a day” works well. If 2 cups is too scary, go with 4 cups a day. Half the goal, until you can do it easily!

One practice to de-stress (also from Martha Beck’s book): 

Lay down for 10 minutes, and put a timer on, so that you don’t have to worry about the time. Then you start telling yourself, that there is nothing to do, that your body can relax now. Sometimes simply being in relaxation pose (Shavasana) for 10 minutes is too much for our minds, so I found, especially if we have the feeling, that we have SO MUCH TO DO! So a little bit self talk helps, like “Everything is ok.”, “I have nothing to do for the next 10 minutes.”, “I can handle this moment, and there is only this moment.”, “It’s alright to rest.” You can also tell your body, how much you admire and love him for doing all this for you (he is your best friend).

If this sounds strange to you, just commit to it for 4 days, and see how you feel afterwards :-) Just see, how you even feel after one session of doing it! If you are not used to be quiet in such a way, a lot of emotions can come up here, and you then become either the observer, or you breathe consciously through them, until you can become the watcher. They are there anyway, you are not creating them with noticing but _releasing_ them! So, that’s a good thing.

I usually get a lot of energy out of this, I feel refreshed, and then I am so much more effective and efficient than I would have been without this excercise. I usually do it either before I have dinner, that’s a good time, because then I eat less for dinner (fewer thoughts in the mind lead to “less action”, in this case to a better feeling about your body and food intake), or before I go to sleep.

Some stuff from yoga concerning change:

The following picture is from “Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 34, p198”, and illustrates in which two manners we can use our minds:

“Man’s mind is the cause of his pleasure and pain. The mind is responsible for both bondage and liberation of man. When you insert the key into a lock and turn it to the left, the lock gets closed. When you turn it to the right it opens. It is the same lock and the same key, but the side to which you turn the key matters. Likewise, the heart may be compared to a lock and the mind to a key. When the mind is turned towards the world, you are attached to the world and when it is turned Godward you get detached and attain liberation. Today man is bound because his mind is turned towards the world.” (Sathya Sai Baba)

Applied to changing habits it all relies on how we use the mind in order to change! In order to become liberated from “bad” habits, first become aware of them, in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. If you do judge yourself for them, know, that this only adds thoughts to your mind. Judgment usually comes from a comparison against some standards, maybe standards outside of the world, or through your experiences of how you were brought up, and your subconscious internalized then these judgments. Then you have a “dictator” inside you, who always knows what’s right and wrong, and how damn wrong you are. Familiar?

Know, that this internalized dictator is just a facet of your ego, to judge what is “good”, and what is “bad” can be a strategy to feel better than the rest of the world, because I AM RIGHT. But why do we want to be RIGHT? On the very core of it the urge to be “right” could be to get admiration from others, for being such a righteous person, or simply to be loved in the end for being such a good person.

You see? Self-criticism at the core wants love, but it is just the wrong strategy to get it. The ego just gets huge in this. Because once you are locked in self-criticism, you are not in the present moment anymore. The present moment is where you can experience love and connect to yourself and with everyone around you.

So, what to do? Instead of taking something from outside and compare yourself against it, turn your mind inwards. Inquire: Why do I do xyz, which I don’t want to do, but there must be some reason that my subconscious thinks that is a good thing for me. In Maja Storch’s book about how to skip smoking she describes that for her it was associated with the value of freedom. So first of all, accept yourself with your habit, and acknowledge the need that is behind it. Maja Storch then looked for a better way to stay aligned with her value “freedom”, and gave a method of how to change the habit of smoking.

So I will show you in the workshop in April ways of how to change habits in a way full of compassion for ourselves, and how to deal with stuff that is coming up along the way. This gives room for change, and change happens naturally. If not at once, you already experienced the love for yourself, and you are already starting to relax, getting out of the control loop (that’s when the dictator inside you took over, and everything is so INTENSE and HORRIBLE), and this is just the precondition to let a higher intelligence taking over the change.

So, I am so interested, when did you change a pattern for the better the last time consciously? What was it, and how did you manage? Please email your stories. I am so interested! Someone told me at the week-end, how he accomplished, not to be late anymore, after years! We can use skills from coaching, like making plans, and softer methods. I will be doing a little bit of both in the workshop.

Just to refer to the picture from the beginning from Sai Baba: If your mind is turned toward outward or internalized standards, your heart, your passion, your ability to put stuff into practice is probably blocked. If you turn it inwards, to your needs, and to your inner core, the observer, that part of you who is only watching, not judging, and interested in your highest good, you will be in your power and have the power to do what is necessary in the present moment. Right now. You can always take the little practice of Andreas Moritz, which I described in my last newsletter: Before you think a thought of self-criticism breathe two times consciously. It sounds confusing to the mind, and looks as if it is nothing, but DO IT. See, how it works for you. I broke up quite strong thinking patterns with that already. Experiment with that.