It can sound rather counter productive to say that a routine is what you need to make changes since it feels like routine is the exact opposite to change.
But in order to detect issues with your car, you need to regularly bring it for check ups so that you notice any deviation before it becomes a problem. And you would not notice the small issues if you didn’t bring it to the mechanic’s as a routine.
When you do something regularly, you become aware from one day to the next of any subtle differences.
For instance, if you would go running every morning as your routine, you would quickly come to the conclusion that if you slept well and ate something nourishing the evening before, your run would seem easier than if you went out drinking until midnight.
If your daily routine would be to journal, you would also become aware of a constant negative self talk dominating the days when you have spent the night before, arguing with your spouse/mother/friend/boss.
Basically, by doing something on a regular basis, we notice how volatile balance can be and how much the external conditions affect us.
But you can only become aware of it with this focus.
And you could only do something about it, if you have become aware of it.
So this is why routine is key to any change. Because you can’t change anything that you are not aware of. You have no reason to change anything that you are not aware of.
Often, we when are aware that something needs to change but we don’t know what, we usually ask for help.
If it’s the work situation we might ask a colleague or if it’s a cross word we can’t seem to solve, a fresh pair of eyes will be more able to. Why is this?
Because we become blind to our habits.
The curiosity of the new look on us creates the awareness needed to detect and to simply investigate in what is happening.
Now, here is where it becomes tricky. If I have a habit that I repeat every day, I will become blind to it and not detect what might not work for me. This is what the automatic mode does to us, it’s the “like riding a bike” kind of behaviour that is printed in our system.
We can create a habit that is not necessarily done automatically and therefore dodges the habit loop of our system. If the habit that we create is our daily routine of meditation and a physical practice, we strengthen the muscle of awareness instead of “juste keep doing the same thing”.
The more we practice something, the stronger we become at it. You know it with the running routine or the fitness program : It doesn’t become easier, you actually become better at it.
I once had a friend who said that watching TV was the same thing as meditating. To him, it was sitting down and focusing on one same thing for a set period of time. However, there is a rather big difference of course. Because you are not switched on when you watch TV. You are actually detached from yourself which is why we use it to distract ourselves from experiencing uncomfortable feelings. Whereas when you are meditating, you are closing off your senses to the external conditions in order to train your concentration to increase, on the internal conditions.
To sum it up and to give you the explanation to the headline:
To make any change in your life, you need to become aware of what is needed to change. To become aware of it, you need regularity so that you can detect the subtle deviances from one day to the next. By training your awareness, you will become a master in reading the signals and since you practice this awareness in a regular manner, you strengthen your capacity more and more each day. Every morning, before you start your activities of the day, sit down and train your concentration for as short as 5 minutes if you have never done it before and progressively increase by 5 minutes when you feel that this is possible. Over time you will become very good at notice internal changes in these minutes. The stronger your capacity to focus on those subtle movements inside of you, the further into your day you bring this concentration. When we are aware of something we do, we can actively choose to not do it anymore if it’s not helping us. It might not work the first ten times, but the simple awareness of it has already broken the habit loop in your brain. Pretty cool this brain of ours, isn’t it?