It's a funny thing. Everyone I know starts the new year emboldened to meet a goal they've been dreaming about. They have a mission with a clear sense of the outcome they want. Then about two months in, they've lost steam and the goal slips away yet again.
Are you one of those people? Has your new year's resolution slipped quietly away to the background once again, despite your determination just weeks ago? Why does this happen?
Over the years, I've explored the concept of true change and how to achieve it in our lives. It began with a dream to change my life because I was unhappy and tired of feeling like my dreams were out of reach no matter how hard I tried. Then one day I realized my approach was all wrong.
Just as with the rest of life, changing things on the outside without changing them on the inside doesn't last. We can achieve short-term gains that way, but not sustainable ones. And it's the sustainable gains we're after. Otherwise, we pretty quickly default right back into our old mental-emotional habits and struggles no matter what the scenery around us looks like.
We've all heard the famous quote that grew out of something Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." But how do we live by this quote? How can we make our daily actions reflect this quote? I'm going to give you a 5-step roadmap to one sure-fire path right here:
Step 1: Get to know yourself. I mean, really know yourself. Not just the superficial reflective perspective of yourself, but your deepest self, your truest self, your hidden and secret self. How do you do this? Meditation is one great way. Therapy or counseling is another. Shamanic healing is another. Spending time connected with nature is yet another. Service is perhaps another. And if you really want to play ball, take on a worthy project that disturbs your sense of comfort and challenges your status quo. These activities are gateways out of the psychic traps of our mind that allow us to peer behind the curtain of our lives to see the real truth. Until we deal with our conditioned self (the one that shows up in these endeavors), we can't deal with much else with much integrity.
Step 2: Stay a learner. As soon as we think we know something, we've closed the door to our personal growth and spiritual maturing. It's also true that when we close our mind and heart to new information, we trap ourselves in an "ego-validating echo chamber" filled with egoic pride. This effectively destroys our capacity to connect with life in a genuine way. As it turns out, the saying there's always room to grow is actually true. Until we are all enlightened masters, we have room to grow.
Step 3: Devote to a spiritual practice. Dedicating ourselves to a spiritual growth practice such as meditation strengthens our inner constitution across the board, making it easier for us to navigate the challenges in our lives with more presence and grace. We naturally and gradually mature through our experiences in this life, but we do so even more powerfully when we engage in a practice that is designed to help us along our journey of spiritual awakening. Taking on such a practice transmutes inner obstacles and opens divine doorways we don't generally have access to otherwise.
Step 4: Stick with it long term. It's inevitable that when we take on a new practice or habit for the long haul, we pretty quickly hit resistance. Resistance is what strengthens our resolve toward mastery of whatever it is we're doing. In the kundalini tradition, we call this "Shakti Pad." It's a thing, and an important part of the transformative process we're in. If we cave to our resistance, we stay stuck in our old ways. But every time we push ourselves through the resistance, we gain back some energy to keep going, and we strengthen our resolve. Move successfully through this cycle of overcoming our resistance enough times, and we stabilize our road to magnetism and a strong inner constitution to gracefully and confidently meet the challenges that are inevitably a part of our lives. Every time we master one of our obstacles, we make our journey that much easier and smoother overall.
Step 5: Ditch self-judgement. Personal development and spiritual maturation are life-long endeavors, not something we accomplish and then check off our "to do" list. Most of us don't suddenly become enlightened or wholly and unbiasedly compassionate and loving beings because we took a year-long spiritual workshop or spent our summer hiking in the woods. These practices are catalysts, to be sure, but there is no end to this path of the soul's evolution. There is always more to learn and refine. Remember Step 2? So don't slip into self-judgement because you cussed out the driver who cut you off or caved into your old habits. Just make note, recommit to your goal, and restart your endeavors. That will get you farther faster than bashing yourself into a state of self-loathing or rejection over it. No one is perfect because there is no "pinnacle perfect." As soon as we reach one goal, we find another waiting just beyond it that we couldn't see, no matter what our endeavor. So rest into the flow of the journey, celebrate your wins, and use your resistance and any slip-ups to recommit yourself to what you're truly ready for - the powerful and empowering change you dream of mastering.