Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm | Setting Goals and Creating Healthy Habits

Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm | Setting Goals and Creating Healthy Habits

In Part 1 of Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm, I introduced the concept of tuning into the rhythm of the day to deepen your health and well-being. In this article I'll introduce the art and science of habit change and creation.

Have you ever tried to create or change a habit and failed? I certainly have, so when I first learned about an Ayurvedic daily routine I was filled with self-doubt. Could I really learn to get up before dawn? Would I ever have a regular meditation practice? Might tongue scraping become as automatic as brushing my teeth?

Here's a quick primer for you. Habit creation and change relies on goals and intentions.

Like dropping a stone into water and seeing the ripples spread, our intentions make waves that ripple out into our lives.

How to Set Goals that Support Your Healthy Habits

So how exactly do you set yourself up for success when it comes to healthy daily habits? Set an overall intention and then populate it with small goals.

Here's an example from my own experience:  

  • Intention: Get up early enough to meditate everyday.
  • Goal: Get to bed by 10 p.m. and wake up before 6 a.m.
  • Action: Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night for the next 10 days to hit the 10 p.m. target.
  • Accountability: Keep a chart in the bathroom and give myself a gold star every night I get to bed by 10 p.m. or 15 minutes earlier. Another gold star for up by 6 a.m. or up 15 minutes earlier than the morning before.  

Okay, so maybe I wasn't actually using gold stars, but I was making note of my bedtimes and rising times, as well as how I felt each morning. And it helped me to notice a pattern: the later I went to bed, the harder it was to get up. Now that might seem totally obvious, but I needed to see it on paper to get really honest with myself.

Once the cause and effect was clear, I was more motivated and accountable. My bedtime began to reliably shift to 9:30–10 p.m. and I was up between 5:30 and 6 a.m. I began to have the time to meditate for 15 minutes every morning! I felt a sense of accomplishment having reached my goal.

My sense of limitation was slowly being replaced by something bigger; my higher self was peeking through the clouds.

 

woman stretching in front of window

 

Always Celebrate Your Wins

Celebration is an overlooked key to success! Between the pace of modern life and the common feeling that comes from our small self that says: “I'm not enough” or “I could have done better,” pausing to celebrate a success rarely ever happens.

Take my advice and become a celebrator of your accomplishments, both large and small.

Why? Because it's fun and it will make you more likely to succeed in the future. Celebrate your big self, the part of you that can change. This is where access to true health is found.

On a biological level, the act of celebrate causes the brain to release dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter.

This creates a positive reinforcement loop that provides encouragement to repeat a behavior.

So find a way to pause and celebrate: call a friend, have a special cup of tea, go for your favorite walk, break out some chocolate—anything that will create that positive loop—so you'll do it again, and again, and again. Accessing that limitless part of you becomes easier when you know your big self is there, and how to access it.

Back to my own story, the earlier to bed/earlier to rise habit made space for my meditation practice, which now gives me the joy and steadiness I desire—everyday. And rather than some big daunting feat, it was accomplished by small, simple daily changes. 

Stay tuned for Ayurveda and the Power of Rhythm Part 3, where we'll explore staying in rhythm when you work away from home.