Take It Easeful: A Gentle Approach to Becoming a New You
You’ve decided that now is the time. You are ready to make changes to the way you’re living your life.
Maybe it was the feeling of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Or, perhaps you are itching to expand into a bigger, brighter, more vibrant version of yourself. Change may have been inspired by a big birthday, the new year, or some other life milestone. Whatever sparked your desire to change, this decision point has a certain quality – excitement, determination, willpower at its peak.
You are ready for action
This is a time of high motivation. It’s the perfect time for making plans, putting systems in place to support you, and for making your intentions known to a friend or accountability partner. All of these actions will serve you well when you enter the inevitable periods of low motivation, when the practice of your new habits or routines will feel less sparkly, not as exciting, boring even.
The time of high motivation excitement can also lead us to make very grand, possibly even unrealistic plans for our change. It’s so normal and human to do this. We learn from our early years and from the all messages around us that change is an all or nothing proposition. No pain, no gain. We strive for perfection and we want immediate gratification. Statistics suggest that making big resolutions to change are usually not successful – only about 9% of people who make a New Year’s Resolution feel they are successful in achieving their resolutions.
Do or Die vs Ease and Grace
What if change didn’t have to be a do-or-die scenario?
What if we made changes easily, gently, gracefully?
Behavior scientists tell us that the best way for most people to make change is to do it in very small steps. This is approach is sometimes called Kaizen – the Japanese word for improvement. This approach has been used in business, healthcare, banking, and other industries to make continuous, incremental improvements to processes and systems. In Yoga Health Coaching, we use Kaizen as a core strategy for establishing healthier habits.
No Big Shocks
Once we embrace the idea of taking small, incremental steps toward change, we have taken a big step toward achieving the vision we have for ourselves! Kaizen is a way to change habits slowly and gently. No big shocks to the system. Micro changes are achievable and help create motivation over time. With this momentum we begin to identify as someone who succeeds at making changes. This spurs on the next small step.
Kaizen is the tactical plan for successfully making change happen in your life. The other important aspect of making change happen in a gentle and sustainable way is mindset. Mindset is how we see the world through the lens of our beliefs, values, and attitudes. Mindset directs our internal dialog (aka self-talk) and in turn, directs our actions. It will reinforce the way we approach change. If we believe change has to be “all or nothing,” we will likely take big, bold (and largely unsustainable) actions toward our goals.
Change can be easeful
A mindset that says, “change can be easeful,” will direct us to take actions that are empowered and evolutionary, yet gentle and nurturing.
You’re probably already aware of the mindset that would support easeful change:
Is your glass half empty or half full?
If you operate from a “glass half full” mindset, you already know how it feels to orient toward empowered ease. You know how the power of being the victor rather than the victim. You understand how to be an active rather than passive participant in your life. You take an evolutionary approach to life instead of a reactionary approach.
If this is not your current default mindset, cultivating more easeful and empowered beliefs and attitudes will bring you to a more grounded place from which to expand and grow. Body Thrivers know this as Habit 10: Easeful Living.
“Easeful living is a grounded connection to your natural state, your divine inheritance as a human, the basic teachings of heaven and earth.” – Cate Stillman, Body Thrive
If easeful living and graceful change feels illusive, you are living in disconnect from expansive consciousness. You feel separate from the whole of creation. You feel a strong and uncomfortable tension between where you are today and the potential you know is inside you.
The antidote for disconnection is grounding
Grounding means getting back in touch with the “ground of being.” Some may experience this concept of “being grounded” as a clear and clean connection to a higher power, consciousness, God, or Mother Earth. There are many ways to reconnect yourself to the ground of being. From a place of groundedness, you have the capacity to approach your life – and any changes you want to make – with an expansive, easeful, blissful mindset.
Here are a few practices that you might use to for grounding:
- Get lots of deep, rejuvenating rest. Go to bed by 10pm. Allow your body time to rest and repair itself with deep, restorative sleep. If you have trouble winding down at night, create a simple and calming bedtime ritual. This may include: a foot massage with essential oils; light stretching or gentle yoga; sitting in silence for 5 minutes (or longer); or making a gratitude list or other journaling exercise. If a bedtime ritual is new to you, pick just one element to practice and take a Kaizen approach to make it a habit.
- Practice self-massage. Abhyanga is the ancient practice of self-massage with oil, used to awaken the divine within. A regular practice of self-massage facilitates the flow of energy in your body, wakes up your whole being on a cellular level, and builds up your confidence and self esteem. This is an amazingly effective practice for connecting to your essential wholeness – the ground of your being.
Grounded, graceful, gentle change is possible when you set your intentions with kindness and compassion.
There is no finish line
Our lives are busy, complex, and ever-changing. This is just one more reason that taking an easeful approach to change will serve you well. The habits and routines that support the vision of the person you want to become cannot be set it stone. Because you have (or are cultivating) an evolutionary mindset, you will always be “Kaizen-ing” your habits to move toward your next evolutionary step. There is no finish line and no “correct” way to do this.
As you work on habit changes, cultivate compassion for yourself. You don’t need to get it right and it won’t help to beat up on yourself if it takes a long time to establish a new habit.
Know that your lifestyle changes are an act of love for yourself and those around you.
What will be your next small, gentle step toward the next version of you?