2015 Resolution Rituals to override the mind

At this time of year, the impetus and momentum for positive change abounds. Sri Mrinalini Mata calls this season of resolutions a time for rousing "I can consciousness". The new year invites us to awaken to our potential, beckoning us to listen to the heart's call and align with the Truth. About 50% of us actually hear this call and make a resolution to change according to a study by Norcross & colleagues. What am I here for? What is my life about? Am I doing my best? What is the point- what is my point? What do I want in 2015? What changes can I make to be more in line with my values?  And what do I need to let go of? In Norcross's study of those who heard the heart's call and made a resolution to change, 77% maintained their resolution for one week, 60% had dropped off by 6 months, and at 2 years, only 19% were still in the game. 

What happens after January 1st? Why do so many drop off? In short, the mind happens, patterns of comfort zone serving delusions and distractions chatter away and we lose connection with the Truth. Without an understanding of how the mind works and how to override it, we get lost in it's noise and lose connection with our vision...

Overriding the Mind

First : Be Specific. We mindfully define clearly and specifically what we desire. "To expand my social support network", "gain strength" or "eat more healthy this year" are not specific goals, "to call or text 3 people a day", "to do 20 pushups on my toes by March 1st" or "eat 5 home prepared organic meals weekly" are specific, measurable goals.

Set these intentions mindfully. Take your time. Sit down with a cup of tea, a candle and a journal. Clear some space for just you. Then say a few prayers or read something centering, meditate or take at least three deep diaphragmatic breaths and elongate the exhales. This activates the Vagus nerve which slows the heart rate and calms the nervous system. Then write your question at the top of the page. What am I here for?What do I want in 2015? Allow whatever comes to mind to pour out onto the page. No editing or judging the content, just let go and fill the page(s). Repeat the same process for the next question: What do I need to let go of?

Unlock the Mind: Ritual: Contemplative Journaling
Unlock the Mind: Ritual: Contemplative Journaling

The ritual of contemplative journaling is a powerful one for connecting to the wisdom within. Rituals in general help to ground and balance us as we step into the unknown. Rituals create a sacred space; safety. From this familiar activity we feel secure enough to listen deeply. We hear those truths that we might have known but turned away from. We hear the language of the heart and connect to this Power. 

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" Neale Donald Walsch  

Second: We need a plan to override the inevitable low spots that lie ahead... The mind is tricky, one minute you're all in, the next- not so much.  I read once that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth, and in my experience I have found this to be true. Contemplative rituals open a powerful portal for positive change, while holding our hands through bumpy growth, ambivalence and recovery. Rituals are a set of committed actions or touchstones performed the same way each time in service of a specific intention. They create a sense of calm in the body and mind through the familiarity of their practice. Rituals keep us committed, focused and grounded, regardless of what is going on around us. They free us from the mental delusion. Often in the new year- we start out with a bang in pursuit of our new lives, but burn out by February or March, because the new goal gets uncomfortable. We think, "Why am I making my life so hard?" Or "I can't do this, it's not worth it" Or some life altering circumstance happens and we somehow get distracted, and slowly our great plan to heed the call of the heart is gone with the wind. Contemplative Rituals help us stay close to the heart's path.

There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.  ~Nelson Mandela

When one door closes, another one opens, but sometimes we are in the hallway for a bit
When one door closes, another one opens, but sometimes we are in the hallway for a bit

Contemplative rituals help us to attune to and become comfortable in the frequency of faith. When one door closes, another one opens, but sometimes we are in the hallway for a while. Ritual is an important part of manifesting desires, because it assist in reconditioning the mind. By attuning the body and mind to faith, we rewire our brains. The practices keep us tethered to the life we wish to manifest, regardless of what the mind is saying or what this particular day (read: hallway) may look like.

"Our patterns are well established, seductive and comforting...The essence of practice is always the same: instead of falling prey to a chain reaction of revenge or self-hatred, we gradually learn to catch the emotional reaction and drop the story lines."        ~ Pema Chodron

Rituals bond and strengthen one's intention. A bond is something (such as an idea, interest, experience, or feeling) that is shared between people or groups and forms a connection between them (M.Webster definition). The "bond" of ritual is between us and the Divine within. We know from Quantum Physics that thoughts and intentions are powerful forces. We deeply connect and employ unseen forces when we utilize the power of ritual. We are so much bigger than what we see and rituals help us to realize this fact. Practicing rituals makes it possible to take an active part in a relationship with the Divine and live from the heart. Third:Self-Compassion is key. Self-Compassion has been found to be the mediating variable in mindfulness studies; It is how we relate to ourselves which counts. Conceptualize habit-breaking as a process, rather than an event. Relapses in behavior changes are to be expected. In fact, they are the rule and not the exception. According to Prochaska and DiClemente's addiction research, most people go around the wheel of change (see Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance, relapse) 3 to 7 times before they ever make lasting changes. Lapses are part of the process, part of getting to know yourself. So you ate a burrito, smoked a cigarette, missed a yoga class or did all three. Instead of quitting or beating yourself up about the lapse, be curious about what lead up to the relapse. Contemplatively journal, be mindful of the experience and set yourself up for success the next time. Its about progress, loving and getting to know ourselves, not perfection. Get back on the horse and ride. Here are some suggested Contemplative Rituals for manifesting in 2015: daily prayer, meditation, chanting mantras, affirmations, singing, painting, pottery, art, contemplative journal writing, meditation, mindfulness, self-compassion, or Loving Kindness meditation, morning spiritual reading, Kundalini kriyas, spiritual group meeting of your choice or daily yoga practice. Most anything can be used as a ritual --- you can create your own meaningful contemplative ritual. The most important piece is not necessarily the practiced behavior, but the frequency with which it is practiced (ideally daily) and the reason or intent behind the ritual. What is my intention? To what service or what end am I here doing this behavior? These practices will carry the fickle mind through rough waters and uncomfortable hallways and into a deeply meaningful life! Keep the Faith.

Happy New Year and many Blessings!

Love & Light,

Dr. Regina