Two months ago I gave up coffee after being a lifelong (well, since adolescence) coffee drinker. When I started studying Ayurveda I learned that coffee might not be the best thing for my fiery nature. In Ayurveda the basic principle is like increases like, and opposites balance. Adding coffee (a stimulant) to my already stimulated life is a recipe for burnout. Not to mention I like my coffee with chocolate almond milk (another stimulant), which meant I basically started the day with sugar which would guarantee I would have cravings throughout the day. So after three years of thinking about quitting, I finally did. So last week my husband showed me this NY Times article about the benefits of coffee and how there's no scientific proof that it's bad for you. But I knew, deep down, that it's not good for ME. But the article was compelling and I entertained the possibility of indulging every once in a while.
A few days later I went to the farmers market and there was the cutest little coffee truck with specialty coffees such as Nitro cold-brewed coffee and other enticing choices. I paused and read the menu, seriously considering this might be a good time for one of those "once-in-a-while" indulgences. But I hesitated. I decided I would make my rounds at the market and circle back a second time and make my choice. So a few minutes later I returned to the truck, a stood in front contemplating my decision. I'm proud to say that this time, I walked away.
Let me be clear that before I go any further I don't always make the best decisions. However, I was very proud of myself for aligning with my highest self in that particular moment.
There's this cool word in Ayurveda that means "crimes against wisdom". Prajnaparadha is when we do something against our better judgment and do things even when we know they aren't good for us (like eating or drinking things that aren't good for us). According to Ayurveda, going against your intuition and common sense is the root of all disease, sickness and imbalance.
So why do we continue to make bad choices?
Basically there are five reasons (let me know if you can think of any others!):
- lack of structure or plan of action
- lack of community support.
Tapas (not the Spanish word for small plate kind) is a Sanskrit word that means "fiery discipline". It's the inner motivation that keeps us focused on what is important and the fire that fuels our desire for change. It's our intense determination and burning yearning for transformation.
To tap into tapas, we have to know the "why" behind our desire to change. I gave up coffee because I want to be as healthy as I can and feel as good as possible. Our intention is everything. When we're clear about why we're doing something, we can always come back to it when we're in a crux time (like my moment in front of the coffee truck).
We all want to be happy and healthy. We are want to feel good and on purpose. When we realize that this is dependent on our ability to be disciplined to make the highest choice - in every moment, we might be inspired to cultivate some discipline.
Here's the thing. We have a zillion choices to make each day. It could get quite exhausting to ask ourselves, with every decision: "Does this bring me closer to where I want to go or take me further away? Is this choice in alignment with my highest self, or my patterned, egoic self?".
I don't know about you, but wherever I can streamline my life so I can free up brain space is incredibly valuable for me. The solution - create healthier habits. When we automatically eat better food, do our daily mindfulness practices, exercise and take care of our bodies, we are not only healthier - but we don't have to consciously make those kind of decisions - we just do them.
Now creating healthier habits - that's a whole other ballgame. The conundrum - starting a habit takes some tapas. The upside - keeping the fire of tapas burning once it's started requires much less effort.
Habit change is now the focus of my work (both personal and professional). If you want to talk to me about how to create healthier habits, I would love to hear about your highest aspirations for health and wellbeing. Set up a free 30 minute strategy phone session with me here.