Last night, instead of sitting in front of the TV, I delved into my bookcase to say hello to some old friends and make new ones with some unread books on the shelf. I started in the top right corner of the bookcase, where I keep my books on yoga, pranayama (breathing), and meditation. I often return to yoga thought and practice in stressful times or feel disconnected from myself. Between the collective anxiety of Omicron and coping by spending way too much time on my iPhone and iPad uselessly searching and scrolling, I was losing touch with the present moment and feeling mentally zoned out. I sorted books that no longer served or spoke to me from my yoga training, allowing myself to let them go. I persued the pages of others I had read before, gleaning some words of wisdom (those were the keepers), and reacquainted myself with a few I have yet to read. I took two books from the shelf and placed them in my yoga area of the living room to begin my journey the following morning.
One of the things I love about having this blog is sharing my professional wisdom and personal well-being journey. Behavior change fascinates me, and I’ve enjoyed (and recommend) reading books about habit change like Making Habits and Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean and Better than Before by Grethen Rubin. The concept of habit replacement resonated most with me. It’s the idea that when you want to stop a particular behavior, it’s important to immediately replace the “bad” behavior with the “good one.” For example, say you want to stop drinking caffeinated coffee in the morning. It’s much easier to stop drinking coffee if you have something to replace it with by finding an alternative beverage you like first, and then make sure it’s in the house. Another concept I am delving into is the power of micro habits and listening to Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. He takes an in-depth look into the power of starting small behavior changes that can then turn into powerful, healthy habits. He introduces the concept of MAP – motivation, ability, and prompt, as the foundation of change. The lightbulb went off. Out of sight is out of mind, as the saying goes. If I wanted to spend less time on my smart devices first in the morning (reading the news is my thing), I would replace that habit with getting back into yoga. My motivation to find more stillness and inner peace led me to the bookshelf. I decided to begin the following morning by reading just one page of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffman and doing just one yoga exercise from my all-time favorite yoga book, Yoga Week by Week by Selvarajan Yesudian. The prompt was placing the books, as I mentioned above, in my yoga area in the living room.
So, friends, I have completed day one! I learned that stillness is not the absence of energy but the opposite side of a more quiet expression of energetic vitality. I followed it up with a round of three-part yoga breathing (Dirga Pranayama) to further relax my mind and body. My mind became so still and quiet that I began to write this post in my head!
It is my sincere hope that you find your own path to peace and stillness during these unprecedented times, one tiny habit at a time.