I was recently telling someone about my background getting a degree in Environmental Science and they commented, “Wow, now you’re doing something completely different.” But, I don’t see it that way. The deeper I go down my path as a wellness provider through yoga, bodywork and lifestyle coaching the more I relate to my environmentalist background; rather than working to clean up external ecosystems I’m working to clean up internal ecosystems. And it’s just as socially, culturally and globally revolutionary as other environmentalist work.
According to a landmark global study by The Lancet Group, lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are now the leading cause of death and disability globally. The study shows that since the 1970’s men and women worldwide are living longer but they also spend more years living with injury and illness caused by bad lifestyle choices like drinking, smoking, poor nutrition and too much stress.
In both Australia and America lifestyle disease is the leading cause of death – with heart disease begin the most prevalent, followed by cancer.
So why are we choosing lifestyles that kill us?!? And what motivates us to choose a lifestyle of heath?
I don’t have the answer but I’m on a mission to try and find it. So far on this mission I’m realizing that everything starts from within and from our deepest beliefs about ourselves and the world. My meditation teacher gave a great analogy about the process of calming the mind: you can train a dog to sit next to you, but it will still be full of energy wanting to run around, or you can give the dog a bone and it will happily sit next to you and chew the bone.
Forced external rules on how to live tend to make us feel like a dog trapped on a leash, and while we might be abstaining from unhealthy habits, there’s always a part of us that wants to break the leash and run after those things we’re abstaining from. I don’t consider this healthy, and I’ll go as far as saying it can even create stress…which is one of the leading causes of heart disease and other physical and psychological diseases.
So what’s the bone we can give ourselves to keep us sitting happily next to health?
I think the bone of satisfaction and motivation is a strong positive self identity. In yoga we do this with the practice of Sankalpas. Yoga teaches us to recognize that we already have and are everything we could need or want, we must simple clear what’s covering up that light within.
A Sankalpa is a positive affirmation like, “I am healthy.” The practice is to repeat this daily. The more you chew on this identity, the more you not only believe it, but also act based on it. You start to live up to that identity effortlessly simply because it feel right.
According to habit change research people stick to identity-based goals far more than to performance-based goals. Habit change expert James Clear says, “The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).”
This Sunday I’ll be leading a 5 week journey with a group of people ready to uncover the light within, reinforce and deeply ingrain a positive self identity of healthy living. I can’t wait! There are still a few spots left so if you’re craving lasting transformation join the yoga r-evolution. Check out the 30 Day Yoga Evolution program at Qi Health and Yoga.
What is your positive self identity statement, your sankalpa?