Our New Year’s resolutions of starting over and embarking on a healthier, wiser path often tend to fade when we discover how difficult it is to change our behaviors. Yet we do have the ability to rewire our circuitry—our patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—by engaging IRS’s positive change agents (Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion) and linking them to the powering force of OM (One-pointed Mind). Let’s explore this.
We are born with powerful patterns in our brain circuitry—mental, emotional, neural, physical, and behavioral. From those patterns, along with our early conditioning, habits are formed. Once negative habits or misperceived patterns of anger or mistrust are firmly established, we have almost no choice but to continually repeat them.
The good news is that science has discovered that the brain is malleable and can be rewired through neuroplasticity. It has the ability to regenerate and change and is capable of creating both flexible and rigid behaviors, good and bad. We can release outmoded beliefs and behaviors, change the way we think, respond and act in our lives to help us manifest goals, and thrive with more joy and fulfillment.
OM: One-pointed Mind
Our minds by nature are many-pointed. Our senses, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are working constantly, pulling our attention in many directions. A focused mind helps us connect to our True Self or Higher Power to regenerate and create new neural pathways. This process of rewiring enables us to move beyond a perpetual treadmill existence. Meditation and yoga (including chanting OM) are systems that help us train the mind, allowing us to make this deep connection.
I: Intention paves the way
A powerful first step in the rewiring process of our neural pathways is in creating and holding intentions. You may have the desire to lose weight, find a new job or a new relationship, or grow your business. However, for long-lasting change, it’s important not only to put a specific target on each intention—such as ten pounds or increasing sales by 30%—but to delve inside for a deeper desire and motivation for your life to support your intentions.
Sit quietly and inquire into your True Self for your deepest desire – what you truly value, care about and love. Feel your desire as though it’s already happening. The mind knows no past or future, only the present.
Keep your mind one-pointed by starting each day or each endeavor aimed at achieving your goal tuned in to your heartfelt intention. Self-discipline then becomes a natural outpouring of this process as the desire to achieve your intention creates its own neural pathway.
R: Repetition creates the link
Repetition, such as with affirmations, is an important key for creating new patterns in the brain and furthering the intention process. Mohammed Ali constantly recited rhyming couplets as though they were mantras, and then topped it off with a self-affirming, “I am the greatest!”
Clinical psychologist and integrative yoga therapist Bo Forbes found that Repetition with only 15–30 minutes of twice-weekly breathing exercises and restorative yoga, her clients became more emotionally settled. In her book, Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practice to Relieve Anxiety and Depression Forbes writes that the nervous system, the body, and the practicing of patterns are primary agents of neuroplasticity. Calming the body through a body-centered practice, such as yoga, chi, or meditation creates a foundation for the creation of new patterns.
S: Self-compassion fortifies
Achieving long-lasting change requires more than self-discipline. It’s important not to beat yourself up after a few unsuccessful tries at changing habits or behaviors. You need to repeat and repeat and repeat a thought or act in order for the pathways to coalesce, allowing for the positive change to begin.
When self-criticism, self-judgment, or self-doubt does surface, understand that being hard on yourself makes you less resilient after setbacks and more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Practicing self-compassion helps to strengthen and fortify your desire. It’s about caring and wanting the best for yourself, wanting to heal, be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Using your one-pointed mind along with consistent repetition of your deepest desire helps your brain to create new pathways for positive, long-lasting change.
Let the awaking energy of spring’s new life invigorate you as you practice Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion with a One-pointed Mind to help produce positive change.
~ Read full article from this adaptation in March/April 2011 Yoga Chicago