One Step at a Time
The Tao Te Ching famously reminds us, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Okay – we all know how easy it is to start a journey. But that’s when things get complicated!
How on earth can we find a reliable map, guide, or compass that will steer us to our goal?
As we move forward, the goal posts seem to recede into the distance. How can we stay the course and find the right direction?
Our greatest need is to very clearly define our goal and visualize the journey.
What if your goal is to feel better? Your journey may require you to improve your overall health. Your action steps might include starting an exercise program and improving your diet.
New behaviors take time to develop. It’s rare for people to be able to change their long-entrenched habits overnight.
The not-so-secret Success Recipe: “Good habits grow by repetition.”
You aren’t likely to succeed if you try leap instantly from eating hardly any vegetables, to consuming 5-7 servings of veggies every day.
If you’ve never meditated, it will be realistic to proceed one easily doable step at a time:
- Learn to meditate. Take a class. Read a book. Watch some videos.
- Set up an environment that invites you to meditate
- Commit to retreating to your meditation space at regular times, perhaps those pleasant transition times when you first awaken, then upon returning from work, and/or just before sleeping
- Consider beginning with the body. Start your meditation with some simple, easy breathing exercises to balance the autonomic nervous system and bring yourself to a point of physical and mental calm from which you may slip into meditation.
In time, daily repetition will become an enjoyable habit. If you make your meditations enjoyable, free of “have-to’s” and “I’m no good at this’s” – five minutes may evolve into 15, 30, or even 60 minutes.
Set yourself up for success. As a great master of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda, counseled his students, “Environment is stronger than will power.”
Surround yourself with supportive friends, and avoid those jealous cronies who’ll try to pull you back into old habit patterns.
It’s very helpful to have the support of a friend or group who share your commitment and with whom you can safely discuss your progress.
If you’re eliminating alcohol from your life, a friend who’s drinking regularly will definitely not be a good support.
A “friend” who encourages you to have an “occasional” sweet treat when you’re trying to eliminate sugar is not a true friend.
Develop your will power. Yogananda defined will power in a way that makes it far more relatable and pleasantly do-able than those traditional images of jut-jawed drill sergeants. He said, “Will power is a smooth flow of energy plus attention, directed toward a desire end.” Feed your good desires, and you’ll automatically want to accomplish your goals.
I particularly like the affirmation Yogananda gave with his Energization Exercises: “Within me lies the energy to accomplish all that I will to do. Behind my every act is God’s infinite power.”
No excuses! There are an infinite number of “good reasons” to break our resolutions. They mostly tempt us when doing the right, good thing seems inconvenient, or when we’re feeling tired and discouraged and our motivation is weak.
The cure is clear thought, plus indignant self-regard, accompanied by a firm insistence on finding our own greater happiness.
When temptation threatens to surround and overwhelm you, step back and take a five-minute timeout.
Remind yourself of how wonderful you’ll feel when you triumph over temptation and keep moving toward your goal.
Don’t evaluate your progress every 5 minutes. It’s better to save those evaluations for longer intervals; say, every one, two, or three months. Try it – you’ll be surprised at your success!
If you aren’t moving ahead as rapidly as you hoped, be open to evaluate your actions and perhaps make some adjustments based on the wise experience you’ve gathered so far.
Enjoy your small successes. Celebrate each day’s victories, and the goal will take care of itself.
For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Health Blessings!