The following article is being reproduced with permission of its author, Kate Towell. Kate is a holistic wellness counselor who supports individuals to create the balanced, vibrant life they imagine.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who’s striving to live a healthier, happier, more self-actualized life. You likely know that you need to prioritize sleep, eat more vegetables, exercise regularly and learn to meditate.
Why is it, then, that we still stay up late, binge watch Netflix and rush through our days?
Ayurveda has a name for this phenomenon, it’s called prajnaparadha and it’s one of the three main causes of disease. Prajnaparadha means, “an offense against wisdom” and it happens when you know deep inside that something is not right for your body-mind-spirit, but you go ahead and do it anyway.
Bad habits interrupt our lives and prevent us from realizing our best selves. More importantly, they jeopardize our health — both mentally and physically and they waste our time, energy, and can leave us feeling defeated.
The good news is Ayurveda says we have the power to override our rebellious patterns of making poor choices, tune in to our inner wisdom, and live from a wiser place.
Here are some practical steps for breaking your old patterns and creating new positive ones instead.
Most poor choices that fuel our bad habits are made due to stress, feeling overwhelmed or our limiting beliefs — like somehow you feel that you don’t deserve to be happy, healthy and thriving. Pause to notice what is causing you to hold onto something that is not supporting your whole health. Recognizing the causes of your bad habits is crucial to overcoming them.
Decide and Replace
After reading this far you probably have some idea of the habit you would like to shift. Be honest about how your prajnaparadha “blind spots” affect your life. Whatever it is and whatever you desire to change, you need to have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit. Choose a new positive action to replace the old habit.
Give Yourself a Break
Addressing “crimes against wisdom” and changing bad habits is hard, mostly because our brains love routine and the more your brain engages in a certain habit, the more the brain lays down wiring to make that process easier for you to accomplish the next time. The brain finds comfort in these predictable pathways. It’s hard wired to choose predictability over uncertainty even if the old pattern isn’t good for us. In yoga and Ayurveda these repeated patterns are called Samskaras, and it takes time to build new, positive patterns. So, give yourself a break, let go of the harsh critic and need for perfection.
Tell people you trust what you are doing and how they can support you. Surround yourself with folks with a similar desire to make positive changes. I have multiple accountability partners and they help keep me on track, provide support when I get stuck and help me to celebrate my successes. Knowing that someone else expects you to be better is a powerful motivator and you will change by providing mutual support for someone else.
Addressing crimes against your intellect and breaking bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance.
Go slow. Tackle one habit at a time. Break your action steps into small doable pieces and resist the urge to go it alone.
Most people who end up breaking their bad habits try and fail multiple times before they make it work. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Wishing You Vibrant Wellness