We all want to make positive changes in our lives. but actually doing it can seem impossible. One method of manifesting my dreams that has really come in handy is what I call, “Reprogramming My Brain”. You might say, “My brain is not a computer. I cannot just erase the old code and install a whole new operating system.” I say, “Maybe not, but you can change some of the programs and that is pretty good.”
Even though change is the only thing in life that is constant, most of us are stuck making the same mistakes over and over again. Ironic, huh? So what can you to do to escape endless repetition of programmed habits? Change the routines in your head by installing a new operating system. Though it sounds very ambitious, perhaps impossible, it is not really hard. Your brain can be reprogrammed through a few simple concentration exercises. I call the new program you will be installing, “Meditation on the Virtues”.
This practice requires that you have some spiritual muscle you want to strengthen. Perhaps you want to be kinder, more thoughtful, braver, or enhance any other positive attribute, which could include whatever is good for you, even going from a size 8 to a size 4, or finally reading that novel you’ve been meaning to get to. What you do is identify the attribute you want to enhance and then sit with it in your mind. You may say it over and over to yourself for a minute or two and then imagine a scenario where you embody that attribute. Really live in that moment in your mind. Imagine what you would be doing and saying, and what others with you would be doing and saying. Feel what it is like to be kinder, more thoughtful, a size 4 or whatever you are working on. Do this for a minimum of five minutes each day for seven days, more if you like. You will find it is now easier to embody this virtue in real life.
Here is an example of the process. Say during your reflections on last year, you noticed you were feeling lonely and isolated a lot even though you were in contact with many people most days, so you decide you want to deepen your connection to those around you. “What are the elements of deep connection?”, you ask yourself. The answer is: really knowing and being known by others. For this to happen, you need to share more of what is really happening in your life with your acquaintances and to take an interest in what is happening with them. You need to be open about yourself and open to hearing from others. So openness in sharing personal information is the virtue you want to develop. Immediately you hear all these voices saying, ” No one cares about what is happening with me”, and, “I have no time for this. This was a stupid idea in the first place”, and so on. Breathe slowly and realize this is why change is so hard. Whenever we want to do something differently, there are voices in our heads that seek to hold us in place. Let them know that you understand their fear and anxiety and that it is important to you to try something new. Now repeat the virtue you want to manifest to yourself for a few minutes: “I am open about my life and open to hearing from others. I am open about my life and open to hearing from others. I am open about my life and open to hearing from others”. (and so on) Then when that feels well-planted, let it grow into a scenario where you can use your openness.
Say last night your kitten chased her tail in a really cute way. Her play triggered happy feelings for you, and you know someone in your office who is a big cat lover. It is a perfect chance to share about something. Normally you would keep this sort of thing to yourself because you would be afraid to bother someone and keep them from their work since you would fear they would just be impatient with you. Imagine a scenario where you go over and say “hi” and explain you had this really joyful experience that you felt this person would appreciate. Imagine them being delighted to see you, and attentive and appreciative of your story and your thoughtfulness in deciding to share it with them. Then they confide in you how hard it is with their old cat suffering from aging and vomiting all the time, and you are sympathetic. You feel closer and more connected before heading back to your cubicle.
A few suggestions before you begin “Reprogramming Your Brain”. Make your mantra an affirmation. Not “I wish I were brave”, but “I am brave”; not “I hope to be generous”, but “I am generous”, and so on. And imagine positive outcomes to your behavior. Do not succumb to your fears but imagine how you would like things to go. Little by little, your mind will let go of its habitual patterns and become more and more comfortable traveling the new nerve pathways you are creating and you will be manifesting your dreams. Do this everyday at least once for five minutes or more (up to half an hour). Use the same affirmation for at least a week. The longer your use the same affirmation, the deeper you will plant the seed. When you feel like you are doing well with that new program, you are ready to move on to another. Doing one major change at a time is as much as most of us can handle.
Here is a quick checklist for when you sit down to do this:
1) Pick a virtue you want to manifest in your life through reprogramming.
2) Create an affirmation about that virtue being present in your life.
3) Take 5 minutes or more to repeat the affirmation to your self and imagine a scenario where you manifest the change you are making.
4) Do this at least once per day for a week. See the progress you are making.
This can be done with lots of things and all manners of things.
Say you put on extra weight at the holidays and you want to take it off. Repeat to yourself, “I am comfortable in my body because I make healthy food choices and get regular exercise.” Then imagine yourself feeling that way and doing just that.
Say you get behind on cleaning and laundry. Repeat to yourself, “I embody cleanliness by making time each day to tidy up and I take care of myself by setting time aside to get my laundry done before I have no choice.” Then imagine it.
Say you live in a world where people don’t take care of each other and are at war and want to do something to change that. Repeat to yourself, “I am doing my part to create peace and harmony by caring for those around me, and being gentle with everyone I meet.” Then create a scenario where you manifest these ideals.
Pretty soon you will be living the change you want to make, breaking the cycle of pain you’ve been stuck in and being a vibrant example that important change is within everyone’s reach. Congratulations!
When you try this and have some positive results, I’d love to hear about it. Plus, if you have any questions, please let me know.
Ray has been a yoga practitioner since 1969. An honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, his livelihood has been based on television production, art publishing and now yoga supply manufacturing and sales at YogaLifeStyle.com. Until 1997, Ray only shared his yoga practice with friends and relatives. Then he started teaching a class in his hometown of New Paltz, NY, and soon after was offered the opportunity to participate in the inaugural teacher training program of well known master Sri Yogi Dharma Mittra. Ray received his certification and his Sanskrit name “Yogeshvara Om” in September of 2000. In the lineage of Swami Gupta, our main credo is simply, “Be Nice.” According to Ray, “Through love and good intentions, discipline, hard work and faith, progress is assured.” More musings and yoga instruction like this can be found at Ray’s blog Everyday Yoga.