A simple yet effective practice to initiate change
I am sure you have heard of many saints achieving enlightenment by simply asking themselves the quintessential question, "Who am I?".
I don't intend to ask you to ponder on that. You can of course, if that's a burning question in your head.
But the point I am trying to make is that a lot can come to light when we begin asking ourselves questions & allow the answers to come from within.
Since my life purpose, as I see it today, is to help people find ease in their journey to better health & well being, I will stick to how we can use this self questioning to move forward on our 'health & fitness' journey.
Only pre-requisite for this exercise is:
Honesty. You have got to be honest with yourself. Sometimes we hesitate to ask ourselves some questions for fear of what might come up. But what's the alternative to remaining in ignorance? Living a life with sub optimal health and low quality life, right?
So let's get on to doing this simple, yet difficult work of asking ourselves some questions:
On a scale of 0-10 how happy or comfortable do you feel in your body? (some things to reflect on to zero in on a number would be: how is your energy?, how strong do you feel?, how open do you feel in the body?, how is your ease of movement?, how is your immunity?)
If you got a 10 on that, then great you have nothing to do.
However, if you got say 6, 7 or whatever else number below that, then ask yourself:
What do you think you need to do to get an 8 or a 9? (I don't know what's your personality type. If you are the kind that aims for the stars then you can, by all means ask yourself what you need to do to get a 10. I am kind of conservative and aiming for perfection is not my idea of ease, so I will stick to 8/9).
Allow everything to come up. Many of the action steps may not be part of your current habits or lifestyle. Thats ok. Put it down.
Now, ask yourself what you can do to move forward?
You don't have to get everything on that list you made in step 2 right. Just focus on one small change or incorporation of a new habit that helps you improve your score.
Now you need to ensure you take action on what you have chosen to change or incorporate & make it happen "EVERY SINGLE DAY WILLY-NILLY"(I am screaming that out loud, because it is crucial you act and stay consistent to really experience growth)
Now do the same exercise for your mental health. Ask yourself
1. On a scale of 0-10 how happy or comfortable do you feel in your mind? (some things to reflect on to zero in on a number would be: how peaceful do you feel in your head?, does daily stress interfere with your normal functioning?, do you find it difficult to let go of & better manage anger, resentment, fear, jealousy and other difficult emotions when they arise?, do you find it difficult to relax & take a break?)
If you got a 10 on that exercise, then great you have nothing to do.
If you got say 6 or 7 or whatever else number below that, then ask yourself:
What do you think you need to do to get an 8 or a 9? And finally,
Ask yourself what you can do to move forward? As before you don't have to get everything on that list you made in step 2 right. Just 1 will do. But do it. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I include mental health personal assessment because I believe we need to look at our health holistically and not just focus on the body, like our society typically has us do. Treating ourselves as an integrated unit - body, mind, emotions helps to keep the focus on overall well being.
Take your time to do this introspection exercise. And be gentle with yourself.
When I do exercises in introspection like these, not just in 'health and fitness' but also other areas of my life, it sometimes gets overwhelming. As I find that:
✨ There is much to be done
✨ Consistent efforts need to be put in to start seeing changes
✨ And sometimes certain action steps have no clear path forward
When that happens, I remind myself to focus on what I can do with the clarity I have, and also remind myself the importance of self compassion, patience & persistence.
If you sincerely did this exercise then it is likely that you are going through similar emotions. If you are then I suggest you take the time to applaud yourself for taking this step to increase your awareness to what's making you function sub optimally. And also for your willingness to see things for what they are and choosing to do something about it.
I will conclude this post with an excerpt for reflection. I received this as one of the ‘daily tips' for meditation practice in a recent meditation course I did with Sharon Salzberg. The excerpt describes meditation in this way:
“Imagine you’re trying to split a huge piece of wood with a small axe. You hit that piece of wood ninety-nine times and nothing happens. Then you hit it the hundredth time, and it splits open. You might wonder, after that hundredth whack, What did I do differently that time? Did I hold the axe differently; did I stand differently? Why did it work the hundredth time and not the other ninety-nine? But, of course, we needed all those earlier attempts to weaken the fiber of the wood. It doesn’t feel very good when we’re only on hit number thirty-four or thirty-five; it seems as if we aren’t making any progress at all. But we are, and not only because of the mechanical act of banging on the wood and weakening its fiber. What’s really transformative is our willingness to keep going, our openness to possibility, our patience, our effort, our humor, our growing self-knowledge, and the strength that we gain as we keep going. These intangible factors are the most vital to our success. In meditation practice, these elements are growing and deepening even when we’re sleepy, restless, bored, or anxious. They’re the qualities that move us toward transformation over time. They are what split open the wood, and the world.”
This really struck a chord with me. I feel it is applicable not just to a meditation practice, but just about everything that we wish to accomplish.
Do spend some time reflecting on that. Take inspiration and show up for your growth.
Every effort and every small step counts.