Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
In Do you Want to Be Happy? Break the Thought Loop and Reconnect to Yourself, we learned that authentic happiness cannot be found outside of ourselves. To feel joy we need to reconnect to the deepest part of our being, living here and now and not lost in our thoughts.
How can we break the thought loop? Committing to a daily practice. In fact, the key to rewire your brain is the repetition of an action over and over again. This is how you learned to talk and write, for example. Now you can use this method also to change the way you think.
In this post you are going to familiarize yourself with some strategies that you can adopt to establish a daily practice. I would suggest playing a bit around with them and seeing which one suits you better, depending on your personality.
Daily Meditation or Prayer
If you have reached already a certain level of inner stillness, prayer and silent meditation are the most effective ways to break the thought loop. Commit to dedicate some time everyday to be alone with yourself, from 5 to 20 minutes a day in the morning or in the evening is enough. These are the tools that I use the most. In How To Get Started with Mindfulness Meditation: Some Ideas to Help You Establish Your Own Practice you can find more details and hints to integrate them into your routine. To help you stay committed to your practice you can look for friends or a local community and meet regularly to meditate together once a week.
If you are a very active person and a daily sitting meditation feels too much for you right now, you can start to establish a practice by using one of the strategies listed below and try to meditate again after a while. Sometimes it is just a matter of calming enough your busy mind.
Spend some time every day doing something creative that you love, like writing, cooking, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, coloring mandalas, whatever makes you feel joyful and disconnects you from your thinking mind.
Be Grounded: Pay Attention to Your Senses
Another possibility to break the loop of your thoughts is going back to your body. When you do something, be there fully, notice what are the sensations in your body. For example when you have a shower, feel the drops on your skin, the smell of the soap, the sound of the water. Other possibilities are paying attention when you brush your teeth, you cook, you walk, you run, you taste food, you drink a tea, an so on. Try to do any activity of your choice mindfully, without being lost in your thoughts. Yoga poses or pilates are also wonderful tools to focus all you attention on the body.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Being grateful is a very important habit, since it moves the focus from the habitual negative thinking to the blessings that you already have in your life and that you normally do not notice and take for granted. Commit to keep a daily gratitude journal, where you list 3 to 5 things you feel grateful for on that day. You can find more details in Being Grateful: The Most Important Lesson.
Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are also a useful tool to start a practice. This strategy consists in repeating to yourself sentences that make you feel good and counteract negative beliefs. Use this link to find some examples of affirmations written by Louise Hay, a very well-known teacher in this field. You can personalize them, depending on what resonates with you. A possibility is also to write these sentences in small pieces of paper and hang them at home where you can see them often, for example on a mirror. Since over time you want to go to a deeper level than your thinking mind, I would recommend associating positive affirmations to another practice, choose one from the list above.
Keep in mind that when you are establishing a daily practice, it requires commitment and patience. Do not get discouraged if you do not see an immediate result, just keep going. I recommend doing it at least for one month. After a while you will start seeing the effects on your life 🙂
What happens if you skip one day? It is important to avoid beating yourself up. Always keep in mind that these practices are not meant to increase your inner critic. Quite the opposite. So if it happens, just accept it and start again the following day 🙂 What is really important is your commitment to it.
Are you willing to invest some time every day to reconnect to yourself and feel more joyful? Does any of the options above resonate with you?
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