Habits and the power of incremental change

Breaking old habits by embodying the medicine of the tortoise

If you live 80 years you will likely eat 90 thousand meals, bend over 50 to 75 thousand times, and take roughly 672 million breaths. They all add up. And they all contribute to habits that are either working to heal or harm us.

Habits truly matter.

Some of the most common causes of death in the United States are associated with heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, and respiratory issues. All of which are not just manageable but preventable.

According to facts gathered in the documentary Food Matters, eating a diet that consists of more than 51% cooked foods will cause the body to naturally act like it's being invaded by foreign organisms. An innate response that leads to inflammation, imbalances, and disease. On the other hand, eating a diet that is at least 51% raw food removes the risk of leukocytosis, the false alarm within the white blood cell functions that leads to inflammation, imbalances, and disease.

"You cannot punish yourselves without having to pay for it sooner or later."

It's not all about diet, though; movement is an integral piece of the puzzle. Statistics estimate that by 2030 roughly sixty thousand Americans age 65 and older will die from falls, further increasing the mortality rate of a very avoidable part of aging.

The solution? To make real, incremental changes to our physical health. Changes that include balance and bilateral training, as expanded upon by Stephen Jepson of Never Leave the Playground, both of which contribute to mental clarity and the balancing of hemispheres in the brain.

Ancient movement modalities such as Tai Chi, Yoga, and martial arts are among other examples working to increment the focus of sophisticating body movements and linking them with the mind and the breath.

"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us." -John Dryden

In our modern society is a conditioned hope that ailments, issues, and inconveniences be solved by society with little to no effort on our individual behalf. Many don't want to have to rise to the occasion and, instead, want it to be taken care of so they can focus on leisure, play, and whatever else they want to pay attention to.

But when we unravel the mind and its self-imposed restrictions we allow expansion of consciousness, which is imperative to discovering and unlocking our hidden potential. The potential to heal. The potential to thrive. The potential to change the direction of the course of our lives.

Incrementally breaking down old habits and building up new habits will allow the brain to drink in all of the nuances of the learning process, promoting neuroplasticity and strengthening the mind.

Be the tortoise. Take the approach. Take your life a bit slower and a bit more incremental.

One week challenge toward incremental change (attention go-getters, the point is not to do more but to take it slow):

  • Day One: Simply observe stressors. Note (mentally or jot them on paper) moments and situations that add to or trigger stress. Don't do anything about it. Just be the witness.

  • Day Two: Consult your list and introduce an interrupter breath. Just one conscious breath, to act as a wedge between the moment the stress starts to rise and the activity that might be stressful.

  • Day Three: Same interrupter but make it 3-5 conscious breaths as the wedge. And add a smile, which changes the chemical structure of the body and activates an uplifted altered state of being.

  • Day Four: Same breath. Same smile. Add an intention such as "I will rise to the occasion" or "I will meet and overcome this challenge". Continue to focus more on the interrupter and the smile, with only 25% of the focus on the intention.

  • Day Five: Focus equal parts on the interrupter as the intention (50/50).

  • Day Six: Take the interrupter to 100% and carry it throughout the day. Less time will be needed to create that wedge because it's now in the subconscious mind (woohoo!!). Taking the breath and smile with you through all activities of the day will teach you to incorporate them into even the most unexpected of stressful moments.

  • Day Seven: Turn the interrupter back down to 25%. The point is not to stay at 100% and overload the system. It's in the subconscious now, which means the throttle can be turned down and still be effective. Keep smiling. Keep breathing. Try less hard.

Suddenly you'll begin to realize that these things are now just a part of the subconscious mind, and you will naturally rise to the occasion because you know you can. You beautiful tortoise, you.

Learn more about Sam Jump here.

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