“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller(1)
As we begin this season of resolutions and renewal, optimism about making a healthful or other positive change may be mixed with doubt or skepticism. The enthusiasm that sets us on the path to our goals can be a great starting point toward overcoming those negative thoughts that could undermine us before we even begin. Finding ways to solidify our commitments to ourselves and the changes we wish to make is the next important step.
The stakes can be high for many of us who have decided to begin or return to Yoga and meditation or some other wellness practice. Many are motivated by significant challenges to physicalor mental well being. Developing some way to help themselves make critical changes may be is paramount to continuing to have the life they want.
Despite their wonderful benefits of these practices in service of these goals, keeping things moving forward can be a challenge for even the most committed practitioners. It is often true that we are the sum of our habits. In regaining well-being as with any meaningful goal, making changes to longtime habits that have become problematic is tricky for anyone.
Cajoling, demanding, dieting, forcing intense regimens of unpleasant exercise(yes, even Yoga:)) and meditation practice can create as much distress and difficulty as they are meant to resolve. Although some measure of challenge, stress, and resistance are to be expected at times with any change. developing skillful means to be happy and adept in the process is job one if we are seeking long-term results.
Individual motivation and conscious choice making are important precursors to success but so often the need to make changes comes when we are at the lowest level of reserves in these qualities. In other words, often we are compelled to make changes when it can seem the most challenging to do so.
It is at these times that the wisest among us think to seek some help. Enlisting the support of others isn’t easy for many of us but in itself can be the first step on the path of growth in challenging times. Finding the right kind of support from trustworthy sources can be the difference between success or continued struggles for many. Certainly, we have all sought mentoring and fellowship in other areas of our lives and Yoga and meditation practice is no different.
In the practices of Yoga and Meditation, this need for support can be met in many ways. Developing some sense of community that connects us to others who have gone before can help immeasurably in keeping on track and making the gains we seek. “Community over willpower” is a phrase some use to describe this principle.
The role of teacher and student and the connections students make with their fellow students are two key tactics that can build formal and informal communities of fellow pilgrims on the “way” of wellness. Reference to books, digital and other media sources can be another way we can get support in these times. When we feel free to reach out we can gain insight and understanding about our resistances and struggles, and finding answers to difficult questions that arise along the way. We can be reassured that we aren’t so alone in our struggles and have like-minded people with whom we can share our triumphs.
So whenever our resolutions weaken or our falter, I believe community, however we define it, can help us regain and sustain our enthusiasm to build on the resolve that steered us to this “Way” in the first place.
(1)From Brainy quote.com, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/helen_keller_382259