“When people start to meditate or to work with with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a bit like saying “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.”... But loving-kindness--maitri--toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years...The point is not to try to change ourselves...throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are.” - Pema Chodron
In my line(s) of work, I meet countless people trying to make changes in their lifestyle. Whether it be losing weight, working out more, eating a more nutritious diet, or finally getting into headstand. No matter where I look, whether it be the hospital, the office, or the yoga studio, I find people hoping to be better. I can’t say this a negative pursuit (I’m never one to discourage personal improvement!), but I also can’t help but see that many of these pursuits have an inherent resentment towards who that person IS, in that moment, in the now.
So, why do people not reach their goals? Of course, we can find many reasons for that. “I work too much to get to the gym”, or “I don’t have time to find healthy food options”, or “I’m just not flexible enough to do yoga”. Or, we can look at the underlying approach to goal setting, and choose a better path.
I have a strong belief in the power of positive thinking. Positive affirmations have been life changing for me. Taking care in your approach to encouraging change through positive affirmations is a delicate process, and one that I found amazing insight into when I recently read a passage from Pema Chodron about loving-kindness:
In a world where we often learn to set boundaries, limit ourselves, or control a part of ourselves we perceive as negative in order to change, it can be hard to realize that the key to positive change is in exactly that: BEING POSITIVE. That means you are not only positive in your goal setting, but also (and even more importantly) positive in your perception of where you are NOW.
So, this year, when I noticed those few extra pounds had returned, and I set out on a goal to reunite with my healthier, leaner self, I set out on a new path in pursuit of my goal. Instead of controlling my diet, or disciplining myself away from sweets, I chose positivity. To my mind, body, and spirit, I talked myself up. I loved on myself so much that I couldn’t see any other way of living but exactly the way I wanted to; healthy, vibrant, loving, and happy!
To find your path towards successful change, follow the steps below:
1. Each day or each week, set one affirmation for each aspect of your Self, your body, mind, and your soul. Live it up! Write things that make you smile, make you glow, make you feel the best you can!
2. Place your affirmations in a location you will see OFTEN. For me, this meant the one and only iPhone. Each day, write your affirmations on your notes page, take a picture of it, and make it your lock screen. If you’re anything like me, you’ll see that MANY times each day.
3. LIVE your positive affirmations. Realize that the goal you set has to be cultivated in the now, in each moment, and each thought, in your body, mind, and spirit. Let the positive affirmations you set be felt on all levels.
Rejoice in you and realize you are the creator of your path! Your goals are not a distant future, your present is not something that needs to be overcome or changed or denied. Your present is your gift! Your only time to BE your best self is NOW.