It’s natural for your brain to operate on autopilot sometimes. If you had to stop and think about each daily decision, it would be difficult to get much done. That’s one reason why habits are so important.
Habits are also automatic, and repetition makes them stronger. As long as your habits contribute to your wellbeing, that’s a formula for success. However, your habits can hold you back if they clash with your true interests.
Changing a habit can be challenging, but practices like meditation can help. Learn how to apply mindfulness to forming habits.
- Scan your body. Your mental and spiritual wellbeing have a significant impact on your physical health. Breathe deeply and look head to toe for any areas of tension or discomfort.
- Clear your head. Put aside your to do list and daily concerns. Notice what is on your mind without making judgements. Let your thoughts go like clouds floating across the sky.
- Turn inwards. Shift your attention toward your breath and your heart. Try to connect with yourself as a being that is independent of your passing thoughts. View yourself with curiosity and compassion.
- Keep a journal. You probably spend most of your time off the cushion, so writing in a journal may help you to connect with yourself throughout the day. Notice the habits you want to change and focus on more effective substitutions.
- Consider consequences. Be honest about how your habits are affecting your personal and professional life. That may include the reasons why you want to change, as well as the reasons why you formed the habit in the first place. You probably perceived some benefit at least initially.
- Set priorities. You’ll probably make more progress trying to change one or two habits at a time. You could start with the ones that have the most impact on your experiences. On the other hand, you could also build momentum by beginning with something modest that will give you an easy victory.
- Think long term. While you may feel inspired now, that enthusiasm could wane when you run into obstacles. Identify the reasons for change that resonate most deeply for you. That way you’ll be able to call on them when you are feeling discouraged.
- Use affirmations. Ongoing reinforcement helps, too. Read inspirational texts for ideas or write your own brief statements that you can repeat to yourself. They can be about specific topics or anything that gives you energy.
- Seek support. While you might think of meditation as a solitary practice, sitting with others can make your efforts more powerful. Ask for the help you need from your spiritual community, family, and friends.
- Create resolutions. End your meditation session with a concrete plan of action. Commit to taking a specific step toward replacing an old habit with a more positive behavior.
- Be realistic. Avoiding sweets for the rest of your life could be more than you can handle. Start with resolutions you can fulfill even if that means taking it a few hours at a time.
- Examine triggers. To stick with your resolutions, you’ll probably need to be familiar with the events that trigger your old habits. For example, if you can catch yourself early when you’re about to nag your children, you can communicate more assertively and effectively instead.
- Prepare for relapses. Habits actually change your brain over time. Congratulate yourself for noticing when you backslide and keep moving forward.
Many experts believe that 45% or more of our daily behavior is habitual. Transforming your habit energy through meditation and other mindfulness practices can change your life and help you create a brighter future for yourself.