I love Spring. The trees are fully adorned with leaves once again and the foliage is lush and vibrant. The somatic winter sense of lingering loss is swept away by the freshness of possibility and the promise of new beginnings.
In light of this flurry of new energy, on a beautiful hike through the woods, my friend and I launched into an exciting conversation about the biochemical and emotional underpinnings of habitual behavior and lasting change. I had just watched a quick clip on YouTube about the biochemistry of change. Marie Forleo and Todd Herman spoke about how the breaking of old habits or the creation of a new practice floods the bloodstream with dopamine and serotonin. Our cells are used to the stress hormone, cortisol, instead, and they crave what they are accustomed to. The cells that replicate crave dopamine and serotonin rather than cortisol. The cells vibrate in order to shake up their receptor sites to accommodate the influx of these new chemicals. It can feel uncomfortable, depending on the story we attach to this sensation. We can either persevere and quickly find ourselves upleveling, or we can self sabotage at this moment. This is the most important moment, as Todd Herman says, to relax into the process of change.
My friend then shared about how she had been shown a Ted talk that week at work about cultivating a practice for 30 days. How about cultivating new practices not “to make yourself better, “ to fix yourself,” or “for self improvement,” but rather as a way to keep yourself fresh, exciting, and interesting… because if we aren’t growing we’re dying, right?
Ana Forrest says in her book Fierce Medicine, “People are velcroed to their known and familiar miseries. Just at the moment they’re faced with the wide-open space of the unknown, they start grabbing at their old paradigm because it’s familiar and not scary. ..You’ve finally stripped off the leashes and tethers- now jump, before you reattach! Refuse to travel the old neurological pathways. Create new ones and travel them over and over and over. This is your quantum leap. Go!”
A few years ago, I heard my yoga teacher speak about a NASA study during which astronauts wore convex lens goggles, which turned their view of the world upside down. Around days 25 to 30, something amazing began to occur. The astronauts all saw the world right side up once again with the goggles on. This study showed that it takes approximately 30 days for the brain to rewire its neural pathways in order to accommodate a new reality that it has grown habituated to. NASA conducted a second study where the astronauts removed their goggles for 24 hours on day 15. In order to achieve the same results as the previous study the astronauts had to wear their goggles for an additional 25 to 30 days.
So…I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’ve been inspired to cultivate a fresh practice every 30 days as a life practice to stay interesting, continue to grow and evolve, and challenge myself in fresh and exciting ways.
I started by making a list of all of the possibilities that really lit me up at this point in time. Get crazy with this exercise. It’s really quite entertaining to imagine all of the amazing things that you can start to bring into your life! Once I had compiled my list, I took a moment to come back home and feel into my body for a sec.
I wanted to feel Shakti/ life force/ vibrancy coursing through my body. I wanted to feel strength in my core and grace in each step. I wanted a somatic release for stagnant remnants of fear and anxiety. I wanted to reconnect to the athlete, the warrioress, within. I wanted physical strength to give rise to emotional and mental fortitude. I wanted to challenge myself to step into my power in the world, to have a felt sense of THRIVING once again, to rise up and shine forth.
I scanned my list, landing with each option for a brief moment to ponder the possible outcomes of each. I chose the option that pulled me in and felt most in alignment with these core desires.
Then I created some specificity around it… because I know how clever my little mind can be at the end of a long day about negotiating what constitutes as movement without the higher good of my whole being in mind.
I know I need flexibility and the freedom to make conscious decisions based on my current needs and time constraints. So I created options with specified durations. I choose either a 30 minute run or bike, 60 minutes of dancing, yoga or walking, or 15 minutes of high interval training. I also know that I have a track record of bailing on evening workouts, and needed the flow and inspiration that movement creates for the rest of my work throughout the day. So I decided I would move everyday in the morning.
Announce your practice for the next 30 days below!
The Yoga Studio App- awesome app for home yoga classes when time is tight
Nike Training Club App- Love this app for intense and short workouts when I only have 15 minutes to squeeze a workout in
“5 Steps To Change Your Life and Make It Stick” By Marie Forleo: http://youtu.be/CKLK04IU4Do