For years, my spiritual practice was similar to a yo-yo dieter. When feeling down, I used my spiritual tools to feel better. When I started feeling amazing, I’d let my ego get the better of me. I don’t need those…I’m feeling great! When the good times were rolling, my spiritual practice became like an old book collecting dust on a shelf. Who needs meditation when you’re feeling so happy?
Eventually I’d re-gain some kind of emotional heaviness. A circumstance or event would happen, and I’d find myself once again feeling down. I’d dust off my spiritual tools and put them back into practice. A little rusty at first, they’d eventually kick in, leaving me to wonder how I ever abandoned them. Inevitably though, they’d work, the situation would shift, and my yo-yo spirituality would begin another cycle.
At some point I understood two things. First, I was tired of the yo-yo. Second, my biggest happiness gains were made when I consistently used my spiritual tools, regardless of the situation or circumstance in my life. Naturally, the best way to feel more consistent was to be more consistent. Consciously choosing to regularly mediate, for example, regardless of my emotions or circumstances that day, created powerful shifts in my life.
Soon, instead of using spirituality to pull myself out of a funk, I was using meditation and other spiritual tools to increase happiness, overcome fears, and feel more peaceful. What I learned in that process is the following…
- Ignore Your Ego. Your ego will try to convince you that you don’t need positive tools like meditation. Thank it for trying to help you, and release its voice.
- Make A Sticky Habit. Make a new habit one at a time and be specific. Too many new habits at once will be overwhelming. And, habits lacking a specific routine create space for temptation when willpower, time or energy is low. I didn’t decide to meditate at night. I decided to meditate at night right after I finished moisturizing my face. That way my brain didn’t have to waste energy thinking about when, which reduced the chances of me skipping it. It became automatic – something I didn’t have to think about.
- Know Your Triggers. Habits aren’t fool proof. Things will get in the way. For example, it takes a lot of discipline for me to get back into my daily juicing habit once I’ve been on vacation. Knowing this, I’m realistic about what to expect when I return (usually a one week delay before returning to it once I’m home). Also, I line up any extra support (ahem, accountability) I’ll need to get back into the swing of it. But, it doesn’t mean I quit.
Now your turn…what step can you take today to eliminate the yo-yo in your spiritual practice?