You could fool your mind – Part 2

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” – Bhagavad Gita (15.7)


Habits unknown to us

I wanly said I have no habits as if I had resigned myself to being inadequate and unable to improve.

He smiled assuredly and said, “You have at least thirty habits, and I can reveal them to you if you so desire.”

Again he had grabbed my interest. How could he be so sure I have thirty habits when I was convinced I had none?

“Do you wake up in the morning?” he asked plainly. I nodded in the affirmative, wondering what he was driving at. “Do you sleep at night? Do you take a bath? Do you take food? Do you put on your clothes?” I smiled at his ingenuity. He was right, I had many habits. “Now let us link the new habit that you seek to cultivate, with one of your existing habits.” He said it so simply. I was amused and impressed.

“When would you like to do yoga?” he asked me, “You need to link yoga to one of your present habits; which one would you like to choose?”

I thought for a moment and said, “Before my lunch.”

Simple but not easy?

“Daily before your lunch, you need to pull out your yoga mat and sit on it for one minute”, he said conclusively.

“That’s it?” I probed him.

“Yes, that’s the principle of simplicity and the method of linking in action,” he said.

“But will it help me become a sincere yoga practitioner?” I asked. The sceptic within me rose again.

He saw me struggle with my mind and said, “It’s simple for sure, but not easy!”

“You are conditioned to do many things and to do them perfectly; as a result, you just can’t relate to simplicity”

“Hmm” I nodded, “But how will I know I am progressing?”

“You need to track your habits daily – and that’s the third method, Tracking.”

I said, “First is indexing – where I write down the habits that I seek to cultivate. Then I link it to an existing habit, and the third step is I track it.” I was summarizing what he had said.

He said, “Yes, and remember the two principles – simplicity and consistency; do the simple act of sitting on a yoga mat for just a minute, daily, even if you are very busy.”

Taking a step back

I said, “I am not sure I can track all of my twenty new habits daily.”

He smiled, “Again your mind has fooled you.” He explained to me patiently that although I had agreed to the simplicity principle for my habits, I was still rigid and made my habit cultivation very difficult. “Initially you said you wanted to cultivate three habits, and now you say you have listed twenty. You are quite ambitious and that’s good. But you need to remember simplicity.”

I wondered how I was breaking the simplicity principle. He said the fact that I want to cultivate twenty habits all at once shows how I am still struggling.

“Let’s go one step back,” he said. “Instead of tracking twenty habits, why don’t you start tracking your tracking?”

“Excuse me?” I said, unsure if I had heard correctly.

He said, “The only way you’ll be convinced of the simplicity principle is if you start tracking only one thing for now.”

“And how do I do that?”

“Every night before you sleep, put a tick on the column of tracking. The first column is the date, and the second is tracking.”

“But what exactly am I tracking?” I asked.

“You are tracking your habit to be accountable. You are convincing your mind to slow down and practise simplicity. Once you have practised this for three weeks, you’d at least get used to spending a few seconds every night, before you sleep, to track your habit of being accountable. Then, slowly you could add three more habits.”

And things began to roll out exactly the way he predicted. After my first three weeks, I would nonchalantly pull out my tracking sheet and put a tick on the column indicating tracking.

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” — Roy Bennet

To be continued…