|Open Yoga Journal|
When we start working on self-improvement, we may experience the resistance of our mind to the changes that we want to bring into our lives. With great willpower, we can overcome any difficulties. And if we know the right method to work with the mind, we can achieve the desired results with minimum loss of strength and attain a state where we are not subordinated to the mind, but are in the position of a skilled manager.
How does the mind react to change?
By applying our willpower, we can quickly give up on old useless habits and develop new, useful and appropriate ones for a given period of our life. But this is not always easy. Alternatively, we have the strength to do so for some time, and later, the mind comes up with justifications and we fall back to the earlier habitual lifestyle. We all know how sustainable a habit can be if it has been developed over the years.
Experience proves that many of us find it difficult to make quick, volitional changes. This attempt requires a more paced and reliable approach that diminishes the likelihood of rollbacks. By its very nature, our mind does not like radical changes and reacts with resistance to them. However, if changes occur gradually, and the results are stretched over time, then our mind may not even consider these changes and will take them easy. Thus, consistently and moderately pursuing the intended results might be a faster and more effective strategy than sporadic leaps forward with periodic rollbacks to the starting position. Such an approach will allow us to abide by the second principle of yoga – the principle of efficiency and common sense.
How hard is it to always stick to the right habits?
At first glance, it may seem that a righteous lifestyle requires permanent control and exertion of willpower. Indeed, when we change our habits, we always experience discomfort, and sometimes even an irresistible inner desire to leave everything as is. We must demonstrate asceticism and control ourselves. These processes require increased concentration and consume a lot of our strength. However, over time, it becomes easier and easier for us to follow new habits and perform certain actions. This applies to practicing asanas (yoga postures), to proper nutrition, to communication style and to accomplishing specific work. After some time, we get used to it and no longer experience such stress and discomfort as before. Later, we may even like our new habit and the execution of new actions. The more difficult it is for us to develop a new desired habit, the smoother the approach should be. The key thing is moderation and frequency.
On one hand, we must demonstrate our will in controlling the mind, and on the other, we must adhere to the principle of inner harmony. In this case, we can say that we treat our mind kindly, abiding by the first principle of yoga – not doing harm to ourselves and those around us.
The ability of our mind to execute a function or follow a certain habit can be compared with the training of muscles. When the muscles are trained, one doesn’t notice the load, but during the workouts the load is noticeable. Our habits can also be compared to computer programs. A developer spends time and energy to write a program, but when the program is compiled and installed, computers can work automatically without human intervention and execute predefined functions.
Just like a computer, our mind will follow the habits we have established, and our initial efforts will no longer be required. Of course, the mind is a more complex and subtle conglomerate than a mere computer, but this comparison is illustrative enough for our topic.
Abiding by the principles of yoga, we can confidently achieve the desired results in the formation of new good habits instead of old, useless ones, without causing harm and suffering to ourselves. Moreover, our mind will not resist and our actions will be more effective and sound in the long term.
Turn your yoga practice into a habit and skillfully control your mind!
Authors: Andrey Medin
Photo from IOYU archive/ Author of the picture: Anastasiya Gos’kova
Editors: Eva Rati, Evgenia Lakshmi, Olga Belous
Chief editor: Mirra
Project curator: Kerigona
Translators: Satcitananda, Teya Sweet, Alex Vijaya