12/18/2014 Mind-Body Health
The main thing standing in the way of optimal health is you. Learn how to get out of your own way and create healthier, life-affirming habits.
The main thing standing in the way of optimal health is most likely you. There are two main categories of health problems: those that are linked to genes, injuries, or the environment and those that are a result of self-abuse. A lot of modern health concerns today are linked to the latter, and most of those are preventable.
“Self-abuse” sounds harsh but it’s the little everyday choices and habits that stack up and lead to disease. Are you making choices each day that are bad for your body? Realizing this is a matter of clarity, not blame or guilt. Awareness allows you to do something about it, and that’s empowering. You create your battles before they start and you can tame the behavior.
How do you get out of your own way? As with any other aspects of the human experience, you can turn to Ayurveda for guidance.
One of the most beneficial things about meditation is that it enhances self-awareness. Primordial Sound Meditation is especially effective at helping you to tune into your higher self. Through a regular meditation routine you can build greater recognition of your inner voice, and become more aware of the thoughts motivating your negative behaviors. When observed in silence, this detached awareness can be very powerful toward efforts to regain self-control.
Understand Your Role
When it comes to any bad habit, it takes a basic level of awareness to create sustainable change. This awareness is ultimately the recognition of karma. Karma is a Sanskrit term used to describe the principle of causality in the universe. In many mainstream references to karma it’s portrayed as a principle of revenge, a universal equalizer for all the bad done in the world. In some respects it is, but that’s not all it is. Karma is a basic universal law that says every action has an effect or result. Everything you do has karma, not just the bad things. This karma is equal parts intention and action. The true scope of karmic power is in your ability to choose, and then to live with the consequences.
Through this line of self-awareness you can see the direct connection between your habits and the things in your life that make you unhappy. Once you understand the power of conscious choices, it’s possible to open the doors for change. If you want a different result, you must take a different approach. This logic isn’t new, but you can understand it at a deeper level through meditation and true self-observance. Knowing the intention and purpose of your choices, and their karmic effect, you can find storehouses of strength to make the changes you seek.
You can’t force yourself to change a negative pattern. You must accept yourself as you are and then feed your desire for change. Ayurveda teaches that life is a constant flow of energy, information, and awareness. When you accept yourself as a being that is evolving instead of someone who is fixed, it frees you up to accept your mistakes and shortcomings as stepping stones along the path.
This self-acceptance is key on the path to healing. Start by taking responsibility for the negative effects of your habits. Make peace with the fact that you enjoy whatever negative habits you have. If you’re interested in change, you may be getting tired of the cons, but you must accept that you’re holding onto the pros.
By observing yourself without judgment, you can stop negative habits with awareness instead of willpower. For example, guilt alone won’t get you to change bad snacking habits. It takes a true understanding of what you’re doing to yourself to inspire change.
Find Healthier Alternatives
At the core of consciousness, your Agni, or digestive fire, is metabolizing the energy and information of your world through the qualities you experience, both edible and not. Although it doesn’t apply to all habits, sometimes you can substitute similar tastes or qualities with those from alternative sources. In many cases, your negative habits are uneducated or immature attempts at healing something within your mind-body constitution. Through self-analysis, you can begin to work with your inner healer instead of against it.
If you’re an emotional eater, you may find yourself reaching for something sweet during times of distress. There are several reasons, both physiological and psychological, that you may tend to do this. Ayurveda says you may be able to tame that craving by simply giving yourself the nourishing and nurturing character of the sweet taste through other means. This could mean spending time around sweet people, observing tender scenes, giving sweetness to someone else, or connecting with yourself through nurturing activities. After all, it’s the qualities of nurturing and tenderness that you’re seeking for yourself.
Another example might be the daily use of coffee or energy drinks. First of all, one effective way to start dealing with this one is get more rest. If you work on the problem that the habit is solving for you, you lessen the hold that the habit has on your life. If you still find yourself needing an early morning boost, you can get that from herbal teas. The decaffeinated Chopra Center Invigorating Tea is an herbal blend that boosts energy. Also, you can use stimulating peppermint oil to awaken the senses through aromatherapy or self-massage.
These are just a few examples of alternatives to unhealthy habits. In many cases you’ll end up finding your own personal method. Have fun with it, but always experiment with the purpose to be healthier and more fulfilled.
Ask Your Inner Self for the Answers
Sometimes all you have to do is ask and you’ll find the answer. These questions will help you remember your desire to create healthy habits:
- What purpose does this serve me?
- What are my reasons for wanting to change this habit?
- Is there another way to fulfill the need that this habit is pacifying?
- What imbalances am I trying to fix (or maybe even cause) through this habit?
- When I give into this habit, how do I honestly feel afterwards? And why?
You may formulate your own set of questions depending on the habit you’re dealing with, but the questions should always attempt to bring greater awareness to yourself and the karma of your habits.
None of these are going to act as quick fixes. If you truly want to change something in your life, give yourself the time to do it; don’t force it. It took you roughly 21 days or longer to create this bad habit, so give yourself at least that long before giving up on your efforts. The adage that old habits die hard may have some truth to it, but with the help of Ayurveda, new habits can arise to replace those old habits and healing can begin.
Find your purpose, tune into the voice of your soul, and develop practices for total well-being with our self-paced online course, Living in Awareness. Learn More