My energy medicine teacher Deborah King often talks about the benefits of meditation, especially that it leads to a calmer, more centered state. On her weekly radio show, I’ve heard her ask a nervous caller many times if she meditates, then the caller saying hesitantly, “Well, I’ve been thinking about starting….”. Clearly, this is not enough to move her forward! (For anyone interested in meditation, here is some additional information from Deborah’s website.)
After years of knowing the benefits of the Long Swing, in the past few weeks I’ve implemented the practice of doing 50 or more Long Swings before I go to bed. I’ve thought about doing this many times, yet never committed to it. Yes, I’m sleeping more deeply. I’m also doing a handful of Long Swings several times a day now, usually when I feel I’ve been sitting still too long. My chronic neck tightness/stiffness is decreasing as a result, which is wonderful.
The other vision practice I’ve been sporadic about which is now getting more focus (!) is the eye chart. I have an eye chart on each side of my computer, one small chart on the left fairly near, which I glance at (and past) a lot since there’s a window behind it. The chart to the right is farther away and larger. Rather than spending 2 minutes a few times a day half-focused on the eye chart, with most of my mental attention elsewhere, I am now doing dedicated practice. This does not mean serious striving, frowning and struggling! It means putting my other tasks aside for a brief period and placing most of my attention on really looking, and on what I am seeing, on playing with smaller and smaller details, easily and gently, having my awareness on how that feels.
Everyone I know is busy, and it’s difficult to add something new when you feel like you don’t have time to do what’s already on your plate. One possibility is to incorporate the new habit into something you’re already doing. A vision improvement colleague just wrote to me that’s he’s started doing vision practice along with his morning stretching routine. Similarly, one of my new students asked me how he could remember to palm regularly, saying that even though he believes it’s good for him (and he can feel this), he keeps forgetting to do it! I suggested he associate it with something he already does periodically, like get up from the computer to get a glass of water, or a pen, or a kleenex. He brightened up, saying he could easily do this.
The Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote comes to mind: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”. I almost titled this post “Just do it!”, the Nike slogan. I’m finding that if I take a first step toward something I want, even when the next few steps aren’t clear to me, help shows up in surprising ways to make my progress easier. It’s as if my guardian angel wants to be sure I’m serious about moving forward, not just thinking about it! Once I’m underway, however shaky and unsure I may be, she’ll start sending help.
Popular wisdom says it takes 21 days to institute a new habit, that you have to keep doing the different behavior that long for the body and brain and emotions to get comfortable with it. Often “new” can be synonymous with dangerous! And those 21 days can start right now, or next month, or next year — it’s your choice. So how about committing to some Long Swings, or a walk without your glasses, or some palming, for today and tomorrow? Then see if you can do it for another day or two. Baby steps are better than no steps! Before long, this will be so much a part of your routine you won’t even consider skipping it. So get started, and let the magic happen!