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Think Small and Do Small for Big Returns

Posted Jan 07 2009 2:45pm

We're just about a week in to 2009 and I say so far so wonderful! How's it all going for you thus far? Are you turning your intentions into reality? If the answer is no, not yet, have no fear. This time of year there's a lot of pressure to make lasting changes, which can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to commit to a regular yoga practice, more healthy eating, and more balance between work and play. Why not try focusing on just one thing and following through until it happens for you? Bite-sized chunks, I always say.

In the Kundalini tradition, kriyas are often done for 40 days as it is believed that the 40 day time period is the minimum requirement for establishing a new routine. What if you applied this to your intentions for the year -- focus on one for 40 days and then focus on another after those 40 days are up. This will make your list of intentions that much less intimidating.

I'm practicing what I'm preaching and starting small myself. I built up my meditation practice and once I've been at it for 40 days I'm going to add something else into my daily routine. I'm also thinking small in terms of my accomplishments this year. I have a lot of ideas that I'd like to launch this year and just thinking about it can be overwhelming. Rather than plan it all out, I focus one thing for a set amount of time each day. My kitchen timer is my new best friend. I simply set the timer for an hour and then get to work on something. When the timer goes off, I put the project aside and work on the next thing. The key for me is to not get ahead of myself or I fall down the rabbit hole of overwhelm (can you hear the variation on the Alice in Wonderland theme -- "I'm stressed. I'm stressed. I'm stressed about all of my projects").

Balance is also critical when it comes to avoiding the rabbit hole of overwhelm. That's where the kitchen timer comes in yet again. When I notice that I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and I'm getting ahead of myself, I set the timer for about 15 minutes and I do something fun (dancing, stretching, yoga, tai chi, meditation, etc.). These breaks keep me refreshed and feeling good -- and they keep any stress that may have built up to a minimum. Just yesterday I was frustrated by technical difficulties with the new Web sites that I plan to launch this year. I could feel the drop in energy and I noticed that things were feeling heavy, soupy (all you pea soup fans out there know what I'm talking about) and a bit hopeless (how am I going to get this all done and pull it off in the way that I want?). My trusty kitchen timer and those 15 minutes of fun saved me from certain discouragement.

Just the other day I was speaking with a client who was determined to expand her home yoga practice and begin a meditation practice. Things went well the first day but then took a turn for the worse on the second day. By the third day she was feeling defeated. I think we can all relate to this one. Making big sweeping changes like this that require schedule adjustment and/or lifestyle adjustment can get you in a long-term mind frame. There's nothing wrong with that but sometimes getting to focused on the big picture puts too much pressure on us and sets us up for disaster.

So if you're looking to make a change either in your life or in your yoga practice try this:

  • Focusing on one thing for 40 days. Once you have it down, focus on something else for the next 40 days.
  • Thinking small. You don't have to overhaul your eating all at once. Start by cutting out 2-3 unhealthy foods. Then work on adding 2-3 healthy foods. Same goes for yoga -- rather than shoot for a 60-minute practice, try starting with a 15-minute practice. You can add to it as time goes on. If you're looking for something to add to your routine, why not try the 5 Tibetan Rites? These exercises come from Tibetan monks and they are said to open up the chakras and inhibit aging. The best part is that they only take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes and go here for a brief video that you can practice to.
  • Befriendingyour kitchen timer. Use it to keep you focused on a project and to help you balance your work and play time.
  • Loving yourself. As Mark Twain said, "A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time." That said -- be easy with yourself as you go forward with your intentions. You'll have good days and bad days. Don't beat yourself up on your bad days and celebrate your good ones.

I'm about to set my kitchen timer for an hour so I can finish up a deadline project. The longer list of projects can wait. I'm thinking small right now. After all, little steps get you to your destination just as much as big ones do.

Namaste!

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