Forget those New Year’s resolutions that inevitably flounder before the end of January. This year it is time to kick bad habits once and for all by employing the power of will—the yogic way. This means putting your ego in service to your soul and reaching for real freedom from the things that hold you back. Isn’t it time for happiness that lasts?
Every time we repeat an action or a thought we create impressions on the consciousness. These mental blueprints, or Samskaras, become grooves in the physiological brain. Habitual actions and the accompanying thought patterns become so ingrained that when even the slightest attention is placed there, or we come near the action, we are ensnared again and the grooves are cut deeper.
When in the grip of a habit, we are afraid to change and eventually the ruts become so deep that monumental effort is required to literally get “out of the groove.” The influence of bad habits of thought or behavior make us prefer little fleeting moments of pleasure to the joy of true right action. They seem to satisfy but inevitably disappoint, creating satiation without satisfaction and the soul goes on seeking its eternal happiness.
Willpower is required to do what we know is right and good and to avoid what we know is not healthy or positive. By using the practice of Tapas, or will force, we can eradicate happiness-killing habits. Make up your mind and do it! Will the habit to leave and feel the spiritual power that kicks in when attention is clear and focused.
Breaking the shackles of habit requires intensity, earnestness, and devotion. We can start with one small thing to change and stick to it until we have erased the habit of thought or action. In this way, we train our mind’s power of command and its capacity to change anything we choose. Then we can move on to larger endeavors and liberate ourselves from the terrible grip of habitual behavior.
Consistent training of thought, word, and action is required to become a true yogi. It is one thing to feel a flare of passion, but it is another to feed that flame and keep it on course. This is the discipline of Tapas. The trials of life come to teach us to keep a calm mind and a persevering will, thereby becoming stronger and clearer as a result.
In the same way an athlete in training improves by competing with more skilled opponents, challenges stimulate us to greater heights of wisdom and of love. When we choose happiness under all conditions and give kindness to all who cross our path, regardless of what they give us, we open the door to joy. Each small movement in this direction strengthens us. We can trust that whatever our particular environment or circumstances, it is perfect for our spiritual growth.
Proper use of self-control, will force, and the elimination of doubt secures our progress. The more we practice and stay the course the more inner help and resources appear, awakened from within the Divine subconscious that lights our discriminatory faculties. As our will is aligned with soul wisdom, faith becomes our traveling companion. We cultivate the habit of inwardly conversing with Spirit, releasing our ego-based control of things to the highest good for all involved. We concentrate on gratitude for what we have been given rather than what we miss. Eventually, we surrender the ego fully in recognition that Spirit is the ultimate doer of all actions and the One to whom all results are due. As the Bhagavad Gita directs, we perform all actions undisturbed by their results, immersed in the thought of the Divine, forsaking attachment.
Through the conscious action of passionate perseverance and non-attachment, we put ourselves in harmony with Universal Goodness. As we decide time and again to be happy and to live life to the fullest, no matter what, we enjoy a trust in the cosmic order that is larger than our mind’s comprehension. This mental evenness during all states of activities is yoga. And yoga is liberation.
Excerpt from True Yoga: Practicing With the Yoga Sutras For Happiness and Spiritual Fulfillment by Jennie Lee © 2016 by Jennie Lee. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., For more click here.
Author: Jennie Lee
Editor: Travis May