It has been a while since I have written on the Running Mind Blog, but I have been thinking about this post a lot! I have had a pretty busy month and sometimes with over scheduling, I can get a bit off track and begin to become an anxious person. This past month has been a bit of a pivotal experience for me. I had to turn in my final yoga teacher-training essay this month, so I have really been reflecting internally more than I normally do. I have been spending a lot of time analyzing my behavior, in a healthy way, and finding ways to fix behaviors that send me into a vortex of running thoughts. Basically, since I am human like all of you, I got a little off track this month and realized it, and was so so determined to use the tools I have acquired, to steer myself back to a peaceful, healthy state. I had to spend a bit of extra time on my yoga mat, meditating it out, and eventually I came up with a plan of action. Like any habit, the ones ingrained in us can be so hard to break. We have to retrain our minds to take the path less traveled. An instructor of mine gives a great metaphor for this; she says, the brain has pathways like snow filled streets. Imagine the choice you always make (i.e., to snack on chocolate when you get home from work) is a really clear, shoveled path. The choice to not snack or eat a piece of fruit (if you’re hungry), is a path filled with 10 feet of snow. Your brain wants to take the easier path, it’s a no brainer (get it?!)! However, it is possible to slowly chip away at that snowy path and change our behaviors. It just takes commitment and practice.
This month, during my realization that I needed to make some changes, I really thought about how I could kick some bad habits, to get some energy back and restore myself back to normal. Since I was also writing my final yoga reflections, I was able to use some common principles I studied in yoga to reroute myself. I decided that each day I would focus on compassion, gratitude and awareness.
I chose compassion because I find myself easily frustrated with people in traffic, or short with my boyfriend after a long day of work. By focusing on compassion and love towards others, I practice being forgiving towards others rather than angry. This minimizes some of my daily stress and improves my mood.
The second principle I chose to focus on is gratitude. I am grateful for where I am in the learning process, rather than obsessing over where I should be. I also find moments to be grateful for all the simple beauty in my day, like sitting with my boyfriend and puppy at the end of the day or having a warm conversation with a neighbor.
Last but not least, I chose awareness. I wanted to begin cultivating awareness around some of my bad habits. When I catch myself opening the cabinet for some chocolate I ask myself, “Am I hungry right now? Will this benefit me?” I also created another tool to handle the “tired snacking,” I have to do 5 push ups when I try to get up and snack, and then I see if I still want the snack. This tends to work, because after doing something that benefits the body, it’s harder to want to put something in it that doesn’t. I also began cultivating awareness around the way I treat myself, which has been poorly the past few weeks. When I begin criticizing myself, I ask myself, “Is this productive?” “How does it make me feel?” Self-love is so important, and when we get off track, we just need a reminder that loving ourselves is okay (and important)!
With compassion, gratitude and awareness on my mind each day, I am able to catch behaviors and thoughts before they get too far, and shovel my snowy path a few inches. We only get one body in this life; we should treat it with kindness. It can be scary to sit down and face the things that you need to change, but with time and practice, the tension is removed from your life and you can find some space to be peaceful.
I challenge all of you to look inside and see what you can do to make each day fuller and brighter. Keep breathing, stay grateful…