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Every new year we reflect on the previous year and make resolutions to make this year a better one than the last. So we start exercising, go on diets, make vows to spend more time with the family, etc. The problem with all these abrupt changes is that they fight against a very powerful force; the force of habit and routine. We, as humans, love routine, and each routine only reinforces a habit. As the saying states, habits are hard to break. But, how can we make it easier to break them?
From my experience, it is in the act of replacing a bad habit with a good one. When I say good and bad I am referring to habits that benefit your life and those that harm your life, respectively. The key is to replace the bad habit, not just all at once, but slowly; moment-by-moment.
But let’s go back a step and ask ourselves why we make these resolutions to begin with? From what I’ve observed, we aren’t completely happy or at peace with our lives as they are, so we want to make them better. By making them better we think we will get to happiness and inner peace. But, in reality happiness and peace don’t come as an effect of something that you do, rather from a perspective that we gain through experience and life. So, how do we gain that perspective?
Take a moment and look at the way you view your life right now. In this instant, do you see your life as pretty crappy, somewhat insignificant, or as a beautiful miracle? Let’s assume for a moment that you see your life as pretty crappy. What does that mean?
That means that your eyes have been programmed and are continuing to program themselves into seeing the negative in all that’s around you. So, let’s use an example… Visualize a lake with trees, flowers, frogs, fish, snakes, and sunlight surrounding it. In your crappy world, you will most likely perceive this view as uncomfortable and horrible. What will you see? You will most likely see that the flowers attract bees so you might get stung and you are highly allergic. You will see that the frogs are slimy and make too much noise ribbit-ing. You will see that the snakes are too dangerous and poisonous. You will see that the lake has parts of it that look littered. You will see that the sun is too bright and you forgot your sunglasses, so you complain. In the same sentence, you will see that the trees provide too much shade and get cold since you forgot your sweater, so you complain. You will see that the fish don’t have anywhere to go and they are stuck in this lake and not as free as they could be in the ocean.
If you view your life as somewhat insignificant and you are at a state of dispassion in your life, you most likely will perceive the lake in the previous example as just another lake. You may not even notice the flowers, frogs, the snakes or the fish. The lenses of your eyes have been programmed to block out anything that is full of life. Even if someone points out, “look at that beautiful flower,” you may say “Whatever. It’s just a flower. I’ve seen hundreds before.”
Now, if you see your life as a beautiful miracle, then you will most likely perceive the lake, the trees, the flowers, the frogs, the fish, the snake and the sunlight as phenomena and as blessings. You will be grateful for each living organism and you will see its value and importance in your life. You will see that nothing is insignificant and you will be grateful for all that you have been given and not given. You are content. This perception is what the yoga principles try to instill in each practitioner. We, as yogis, observe where we are right now and knowing that there is a happier, more peaceful way of perceiving reality, we condition our minds to perceive reality in that way.
Now, you may say, “But isn’t that just another delusion? Isn’t this just perceiving with a happier lens?” Yes and no. According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, this way of perceiving reality is actually closer to the real way that life was intended to be experienced. In our natural state, we aren’t meant to suffer. But we as humans bring about suffering to ourselves by the ways we view ourselves and the world. As the commentary of yoga sutras by Swami Satchidananda says, “There is nothing wrong with the outside world. You can make it a heaven or a hell.”
Now, if we get attached to this beautiful perception and judge others for perceiving reality differently then we have lost our path somewhere along the way and need to reassess our truth.
Do you see that your mental construct of how you perceive reality will color your experience every time, every moment, every day? Change the color of your lenses and you will see more clearly and be more at peace! Continue those resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, but with a new perspective on how you view that resolution. Peace is always within you; you just have to uncover enough layers of misperception to see it clearly. Who’s ready to uncover themselves?
Editor: Jeannie Page