How to stay on your path of Change

by Catherine Haylock

Do you long for a change in your life? Maybe you are in the same unfulfilling job or in an unsatisfying relationship. Or you feel misunderstood and are looking for new like-minded people. Maybe you wish to travel and leave a secure job behind you for a while. Or trying to figure out what to change, feeling this inner pull that something else should be happening in your life.

There might be outer circumstances forcing you to change, but often, there is only this inner urge or wish for change, or a feeling of unhappiness, which you can’t pinpoint its source, and all you want to do is to turn over a new leaf.

How many self-help books have you read? How many online articles have you found that tell you change can happen in ten steps? How many times did you sit on a cushion and meditate to attract change? Writing in your journal, day after day, what you want differently, trying to find a way out – and how often have you started to make changes and discarded them after a few attempts, going right back to your ‘old’ self and lifestyle, feeling disheartened and disappointed in ourselves.

Putting changes into action can be very challenging

We start with good intentions but might soon fall right back into our old behavioural patterns, and as a result, we judge ourselves for our slip, our commitment failed – again. We lose the energy to keep up with our intentions of change. We open the door to depression and anxiety. But if we can be more gentle and caring with ourselves, then change actually has a chance to happen for good.

We are a cumulation of our experiences from our life(s). Personal stories are attached to our behaviours, and we harbour belief systems about ourselves. In yoga, we call them saṃskāra, which are the accumulation of subconscious, mental impressions. These memories are ingrained in us, making us the person who we are today. To invite change, we need to change our saṃskāra.

Train the mind muscle

Change will happen if we approach it like a meditation practice. When we meditate on an object, like the breath for example, our success does not lay in how long we can stay with the object, in the present; it is about strengthening the “muscle” of awareness.

Our mind wanders – it is its nature – our job is to bring it back to the object, to the now, over and over again. It’s the noticing when our mind wanders; it’s the letting go of thoughts and returning to the present – over and over again, that is the work. With time, we notice and let go faster and faster and can rest over extended periods of time in the now.

Make it happen

We need to apply the same approach to changes. It’s about strengthening the “muscle” of resolution to change, over and over again. When we had a day or week where we ignored our new intentions and fell right back into our old habits, we commit anew, over and over again; taking another action towards change. And slowly, we are changing our saṃskāra into new, supporting and healthy habits.

We are finally able to live our life closer to our heart’s desire.