Original article written & contributed by Karen Muktayani Villanueva for transform. March 2010.
We can change our minds, change our clothes, even change our behavior, but as change itself suggests something temporary, the old idea or action lying just underneath, transforming those things so that we never see or hear from them again is the idea here.
Changing our habits is not as easy as changing our mind…Or is it?
It’s been said that it takes 21 days to change, make, or break a habit. At CXC and within the newDharma Community, we give it 27 days, just in case.
Change may or may not be a temporary state of being. Transformation is utterly permanent. Once transformed, a thing is transfigured or has gone from one stage to another with no possibility of reverting back. Transformation is like a caterpillar turning into the butterfly. Change is like Cinderella’s coach turning back into a pumpkin as the clock strikes twelve.
The paths to change and transformation often look very similar, especially in the beginning. Sometimes, especially to the untrained eye, only time will tell which state of being a person is moving towards. Both paths start with intention, and sometimes they differ, only in a matter of degree.
Motivation influences if we are to ‘just change’ or ‘all-out transform.’ When we are externally motivated, that is, moved by influences outside ourselves, we are more prone to change, rather than transformation. Maybe it is our lovers, our children, or our friends that are wishing something different from us. External motivation is not enough for transformation. Depending on the person, it may not be even be sustainable for change. There must be an equal or greater internal motivation towards something different, if anything is to have a chance of lasting.
Regardless of which path you may or may not be on, the ability to self-interrupt or make a ‘hard stop’ when you are within and amidst your particular habit pattern, is essential for undoing it.
Many people, when faced with the challenge of addressing a well-worn habit, ask, “How do I stop?” The answer, as trite as it may sound, is, “just stop.”
To ‘just stop’ means:
1. Clearly set your intention and cultivate balanced amounts of inner and outer motivation.
2. Make it important.
3. Write it down. Speak it aloud.
4. Witness it for yourself. Have others witness it as well.
5. Surround yourself with people who care for you and who will support this intention. It’s best if these fine folk will hold you accountable as well.
6. Cultivate a deep practice, one that you do with unfailing regularity (i.e. everyday) over time. Mind-Body-Spirit practices, like yoga and meditation, allow for the cultivation of presence, awareness, and mindfulness.
7. When you fall, get back up again. Be responsible.
8. When you fall, get back up again. Be accountable.
9. When you fall, get back up again. Be on purpose.
10. Enjoy ALL of it. You are the steward of your life!