When we are in a process of transforming our lifestyle, certain daily habits are significantly more influential than others.
Therefore they are called the KEYSTONE HABITS.
They have the power to transform your lifestyle as they start a chain effect of anchoring multiple other good habits in your life.
Yoga and meditation are such Keystone Habits.
They both cultivate Mindfulness which leads to positive changes in both physical and psychological health, and the associated attitudes and behaviors:
- an increased awareness of what is truly going on with you and around you (instead of ignoring the messages from your physical and emotional body until they overwhelm you and you feel (and act) out of control).
- an increased ability to respond from a place of awareness and wisdom (instead of reacting with the same old self-sabotaging behaviors that restart another viscous cycle of shame, guilt, and self-neglect).
Mindfulness has ripple effect on your life as you start to be conscious of your daily self-care needs:
- What kind of food or drink would support my physical well-being the best in this moment?
- Am I really hungry or just tired and upset?
- What type of exercise/movement would benefit me today?
- What self-care could help me sooth and heal my feelings of loneliness/dissatisfaction/sadness (other then food)?
- What people/situations contribute to my happiness and which are draining me of energy?
But instead of answering these question from your head, or some outside authority that says – do this, don’t do that!
you will develop clarity and insight from your inner wisdom which will reliably guide you to the optimal choices.
When I used to end up stressed and tired at the end of a day, I would mindlessly grab from the fridge whatever food would make me feel good. But guilt would follow soon afterwards as I ended up in a food coma and wanted to zone out watching TV show for the rest of the evening.
After some period of practicing mindfulness, I would still go into the fridge for a food that would make me feel good – but it was completely different food! I did not want to numb myself from stressful day, I was mindful and managing my stress-levels throughout the day. I was still tired, but I chose food that was light and easy to digest, so I could actually truly rest and recharge myself that evening.
I’m personally passionate about teaching how to incorporate yoga and meditation into my client’s daily life as those two techniques transformed my own life and relationship with my self care, eating, and exercise habits.“
As you master mindfulness the need for willpower and effort associated with maintaining a healthy lifestyle mostly disappears as choosing food and activities that are good for you becomes simply natural.
And that is the secret to a long term lifestyle transformation.
Because when you have to put in ton of effort daily in order to “do the right thing”, you see the healthy lifestyle as something exhausting, and that becomes sooner or later unsustainable… and that is why people quit.
Mindfulness is an ancient technique rediscovered in the modern times. The evidence based conclusions about the benefits of mindfulness are plentiful:
Physical health: helps relieve stress, treats heart disease, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, improves sleep, and alleviates gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mental health: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
Overall well-being: increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
So the arguments for mindfulness are tangible and measurable, but just intellectually understanding the benefits is not going to make any difference in your life. To start experiencing reliable positive results one needs to practice regularly and for a meaningful amount of time (on average daily 20 minutes for 40 days).
Simple enough, however, it might be more difficult to do than it seems. It is not like the old self-sabotaging tendencies disappear that easily. I do not write it to discourage you but to keep your expectations realistic and prepare you for the challenges ahead. They often show up as a myriad of believable reasons why not to practice today:
- I’m too busy.
- I’m too tired.
- I simply do not feel like it is working.
- The practice is too boring or too hard.
- I need that special meditation cushion to really get into it … .
Mindfulness masters still have these thoughts from time to time, so it is very likely they will show up for you. The mastery is really in the ability to acknowledge these thoughts, thank them for their opinion, and do the practice regardless.
There are plenty of apps and YouTube videos to get you start practicing, however, I recommend guidance and mentoring from an experienced mindfulness practitioner to actually experience the breakthroughs as you are supported to stick with the techniques for extended period of time.
Stay tuned for my guide to the most beneficial Meditation and Yoga practices for Women coming up in the next post!