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Ayurveda - Breaking the Rules Without Breaking the Principles

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No Change is the Best Change

A refreshing approach to a healthier New Year

Let’s be honest, we have all experienced (or have seen others experience) the colossal failure of the best-laid plans and commitments for the New Year. From starting a new diet, quitting a substance, finding an exercise program, or even becoming a better person, the odds of success are not always guaranteed. The intentions may start off with a bang, but slowly the desires and motivation fade away. And even when all the right factors are in place to make a change happen long term, something like a pandemic could hit the world.If someone had made a commitment to overcoming fear of social situations, for example, it would suddenly become a moot point in a pandemic environment.

But that doesn’t mean that change cannot occur. To argue my own point, I have seen many succeed in their commitments to building their businesses, quitting smoking or drinking, getting in shape, and making miraculous physical and mental health recoveries by their relentless conviction alone.

So how does one know if a plan will be successful? What is the exact and right formula needed for someone to bet their lives on the fact that they will persevere? Does it require brute force and will, discipline and organization? Is it having the right mentor? Or is it just sheer luck? More likely, it’s that the change is right for you in this exact moment of your life. Someone once told me that if I just woke up at 5:00am every morning, I would find success knocking on my door. If that were true, I’ll just take my “participation trophy” now and head back to bed!

It was Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher. who said, “There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths.” 

True Classical Ayurvedic Medicine also does not subscribe to specific truths. Although Ayurveda suggests that generalized body types correspond with specific diets and lifestyle suggestions, there are far too many other factors in the human condition to warrant an exact formula for someone’s health. Genetic predisposition, age, likes, dislikes, fears, climate, and even disease stages keep traditional medicines from becoming standardized. And yet, we hopelessly try to mimic the successes of other people by following a random formula that works for them but may not work for us. The classical texts of the Bhagavad Gita remind us that “…it is better to die in one’s own path (dharma) than to live in the path of another’s.” 

So what’s the point, then, you ask? Why even bother creating change if the chances of success are low and there are too many factors to determine its outcome? And what do success stories have in common that facilitated their outcomes?

One of my favorite quotes states, We stay the same until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. It takes a moment, or moments, in your life when you decide you will no longer  tolerate the way things are.

Only you get to decide what that threshold is for you, and it does not really require you to “do” anything. You might find that if you are fed up with a relationship, job, or situation, the only thing holding you back from changing it is fear of the unknown or what may happen as a result of that change. But once you decide, the process itself becomes very easy and new doors begin to open up. This is not a “manifest your dreams” talk, it is to show you that until you make fundamental changes in your thinking around a problem, it will stay the same. For example, in the past, I would continuously throw my back out due to a small hairline fracture in the lumbar region. It wasn’t until I lost about two months of work that I made a promise to myself I would never skip a back exercise again. I changed the way I looked at the problem: I stopped saying I had a weak back and started calling myself an athlete.

You can either wait to get pushed off that ledge like me, or you can choose to jump. And the leap you take will take place in your mind first, and at that point, you will naturally begin searching for the right tools to help you launch. I tell all my clients, “Please try not wait until life finds it fit to shove you off the cliff. Take that leap of faith, and there will always be help for you to build a plane on the way down.”

Lastly, I will leave you with a translated quote from the Great ShankarAcharaya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (one of the heads of a Himalayan monastery dating back to 407 BC): “If you do not know what to do, do not act on lofty plans. But if you do not put your best foot forward, life will never know what to give you.”

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