What are your daily habits? Do they truly nourish you? How do they support you in your life? Are they purely physical in nature? Or do they have a quality of spirit that connects you to something greater? On a very practical level, our daily habits either support or diminish our wellbeing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. From a physical standpoint, we know that eating well, staying hydrated, and some kind of movement, keeps our bodies functioning optimally. On a mental level, practices such as meditation and contemplation are key to not only maintain peace of mind but also improve cognitive abilities. Emotionally, we are supported by healthy social connection and adequate sleep. And all three influence each other. If we know it’s good for us, then why do we often have so much trouble sticking to healthy habits?
Because sometimes routine seems boring in the face of all the exciting directions life can take us.
But what we find eventually is that we get out of balance. Our digestive system is off, our joints get stiff, we just yelled at our partner. Then we think we need a day at the spa or by the pool and everything will be good again. Truly taking care of ourselves, though, means that we don’t need a break from our life to regain balance; it means that we cultivate a life that continuously supports us to be the best we can. And we continue again and again to come back to the habits and practices that will sustain us.
When we prioritize our wellbeing, we not only support ourselves but also set ourselves up to better support others, whether that’s in our families, through the work we do, or in our communities. I often laugh with my students that we do yoga not only for ourselves but also for everyone in our lives!
Cultivating and maintaining healthy habits also bring greater self-awareness, as we stay in tune with our needs through the seasons of the year and the phases of our lives. Connecting to the rhythms of our bodies and minds is a key component of sustainable self-care, so that practices and habits can change as needed or be modified while traveling, for instance, during busy times, or at various stages of our lives. Practices and habits are like medicine, we may need a particular type at a specific point in our lives, but we may not need to take that same medicine forever. The idea is not to be so rigid in our routines that we can’t function without them for a day or so, but rather that regular routines allow us to maintain balance through the ebb and flow of life, even if we skip them for a time or change them up.
In the tradition of yoga, daily practice is referred to as ‘sadhana’ which literally means ‘conscious activity to accomplish a goal.’ It is often associated with spiritual practice but can also be applied to creating supportive habits. Sadhana is any practice or activity that sets our cycles and rhythms in accordance with our highest aims. In order to do good in the world, we must function at our best. In order to live from our hearts, we must continuously cultivate the conditions within ourselves to connect to something greater and operate from this place. Sadhana is what connects us to the unlimited potential of who we are, and ultimately can be anything we do or, even more, simply the way we live our lives.
Of course, practices such as yoga and meditation are sadhana, but it can also be the way you prepare your food or interact with strangers; sadhana can be a walk in nature or the way you breathe; sadhana can be volunteering at a shelter or refining your mental self-talk. Anything that supports your wellbeing, and therefore supports the greater good, can be sadhana.
Where in your life do you need to develop better habits? Observe your morning activities, noting each day for a week what you do first thing in the morning. Be honest. What is supporting you? What isn’t? Look at where you typically have gaps in your day, such as between activities, errands, work. Do you try to fill those gaps with distractions, such as tv or social media? What could you do during those times, even if it’s just a few minutes, that would bring more balance to your being? Take a look at how you end your day. Do you wind down in such a way that you sleep soundly? Or do you go, go, go until you drop from sheer exhaustion? What nightly rituals would honor your rhythms and support your wellbeing?
Make small changes and notice, over time, the difference in how you feel and the way in which you interact in the world. And if you need a supportive partner to help guide you, get in touch! I offer one-to-one mentorship in creating and sustaining wellbeing.