We might already be reeling from the excesses of holidays and swearing that 2019 will be different. We’ll exercise! We’ll eat right! We’ll be the master of our own destinies!
Or will we?
As much as us humans like to think of ourselves as at the top of the food chain and fully utilizing our capacity for free choice, the truth is we share much of our brain design with other mammals and creatures. The vast majority of our thought processes and automatic reactions are governed by the deep unconscious parts of our brain, the part that we share with other animals. Sometimes called the “reptilian” brain, or “emotional” brain, it is anything but unsophisticated. It has evolved over millennia to handle our survival in the background very efficiently. This is where your habits are formed and stored. And this is where you need to go to break old habits or develop new ones. The only problem is that this part of your brain isn’t terribly verbal and likes things to stay the same.
This is why our New Year’s resolutions are often thwarted very soon out of the gate. Will power alone is not enough to bring healthier habits into our lives. We need to learn how to communicate with this deeply buried and stubborn part of our psyche.
There are many time honoured and effective techniques. Meditation offers quality space to observe the repetitive thoughts and recognize patterns. Relaxation training can soothe the unconscious into feeling very safe and therefore allow healing patterns to build. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a recognized counselling technique that builds awareness of thought patterns and deliberately substitutes more desirable thoughts.
Building a Vision Board is another possibility. This might take a few hours or can be a cumulative process over a period of time. By visually creating a collage of what you see in your life in an ideal world, you bring all those vague longings and germs of ideas into graphic colour. Simply taking this time to focus on what you really want or need announces to the creative powers of the universe that you are ready to show up for the work necessary to effect change. Looking at your board daily, or more often, reinforces your vision and creates the necessary neurological connections to facilitate change. It enhances the power of the process to have a ritual around the vision board. Maybe you focus on it for a short time at the same hour each day and say a prayer or other sacred text.
Building a Vision Board in a specialized class can help smooth over any bumps or areas of difficulty in completing the project. This is the time of year that many local yoga studios, health centers or spiritual communities might offer workshops.