As I discussed in my post last week, I learned (or reinforced) the idea that it can take up to 84 repetitions (daily!!) to make something a physical habit, with some lucky birds able to achieve “habit status” in as little as 66 days.
Twenty-one days to form a new habit? Myth.
I also wrote about the need for P.E.A.C.E. in the world right now in my Tuesday e-mailer, reflecting on everything happening in the Middle East, and Africa with the Ebola outbreak. Even on a domestic level – turn on the news and there’s all kinds of stories of people hurting people. The world is definitely in need of more love. So where am I going with this?
I’m talking about treating yourself well, so that you can treat others well.
I’m talking about the ever-popular topic of love, and patience (entirely emotional), from a tackling angle that is – you guessed it – PRACTICAL. (Practice…practical… DOTS CONNECTING EVERYWHERE!!!)
First, let me say that I’m not pretending to have a simple answer to all the world’s problems. But I do know with 100% of every part of me that is alive and conscious and thinking and feeling that small changes are a direct path to big changes, and science supports this: Even the slightest shift in energy flow can completely change the course of something. An obvious example is a car crash. A matter of inches or seconds can be the difference between life and death. Or a light switch. If the wattage output is too high for the wiring system, you get a short circuit, and no light. The practical yoga application? A simple change in alignment will change an entire posture, how your bones relate, how your muscles engage, and allow for a better-suited stretch to your body, deeper breath, more oxygen to your muscles and brain, release of more happy-causing hormones (serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins), increasing your ability to feel positive emotions, like LOVE. This stuff is not bullshit.
Now, wouldn’t it be great if we all had enough love to give all the time? We’d never be angry, we’d always be able to see things from the opposite perspective and be forgiving. We’d just spread our love everywhere, and people would feel it, and they would feel better, and then spread the love they are feeling and slowly everyone would be a little happier, feel a little more loved…
…and the world would be better because of all the unicorns shitting skittles.
Ok, so that is the ideal. Which likely won’t happen in our lifetimes. But, theoretically, it could work – and does work. You know what I’m talking about – think to an instance in your life where something GREAT happened to you: you got a promotion, your partner told you they love you for the first time, you conquered a long-awaited goal… the rest of the day was likely awesome. The crabby gas station clerk didn’t bug you, you assumed that the lady that cut you off in traffic was just in a hurry to get to her dying mother, you were even able to find forgiveness for your friend when you sensed a hint of jealousy over your awesome new life milestone. So its simple, we just need to feel enough love to be in a place to be dolling it out. Easy, right?
No. How to do this when you work a job that’s good, but maybe not great, and you have bills and debt from college or house, or kids, or LIFE? And frankly, the lady cutting you off really DID bug you…. There’s a lot of negative to focus on, and if you’re not actively being loved on by others, it can feel more like your love tank is just sitting there empty. It’s really hard to spread love, when you’re not feeling loved yourself.
And my hippiest, hippie comment of all: you gotta love yourself. Can’t nobody take care of others, if they aren’t taking care of number one.
This can be a hard thing to do. But you know what makes it easier??? (I am SUCH a teacher dork.)
HOO-RAY FOR REPETITION!
…times 84, apparently.
As fall comes on, and the weather starts to turn, I invite you to start a new habit where you make a space to love yourself more. This isn’t about guilt-ing you onto the mat. And, as I will say over and over and over, it’s not about touching your toes. It’s about giving yourself time to truly check in with your body, your head, yourself.
It’s about caring enough about yourself to show yourself a little love. It’s not about judging what you look like (I can’t reach my toes to the floor in down dog like that girl!), its not about worrying about what you can do (he can get up into a shoulder stand and I don’t have the first clue where to start!), its about showing up, and making a new habit.