How repetition impacts your beliefs and your ability to flow with changeSep 01, 2022
People struggle with change. Which is unfortunate since change is a constant in life and also a requirement for growth.
As a meditation and mindset coach, I’ve been thinking about this in relation to 3 common challenges found in meditation practice:
- Boredom (there are more interesting options): The day is nice, I’d rather walk outside.
- Difficulty: I can’t get my mind to quiet down. I can’t sit still. I’d rather move.
- Change... Things are better right now. I got busy. I’m out of town.
Many people treat meditation as a thing to run to when they’re in a bad place. Then they leave it behind during better times, better weather, projects, and distractions.
Daily meditation practiced as a lifestyle rather than a stress management tool gets you off the up-down treadmill of joy and dread. The simple daily practice of sitting still and listening (aka meditating) through the good and bad times, and through the boredom of repetition, conquers your susceptibility to dis-ease and increases your baseline happiness (which is the level, or set point, you return to after your positive or negative experience has worn off. This concept is called the hedonic treadmill).
How repetition impacts beliefs impacts reality
I did some Googling on repetition and beliefs and alas, my search results delivered mostly pages from marketing companies explaining how they can help businesses use repetition to create familiarity, beliefs, and a sense of security to increase sales. Then there was an article from Wired magazine titled, Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say it again. And again. And again. It explains how it’s used in politics to have us believe what they want us to believe.
Billions of dollars are invested in broadcasting repetitive messaging - let’s call it mantra - to get us familiarized enough to trust, believe, and act on them. The more the market share gained, the more we accept as true, the easier to fall in line just because it’s familiar and trusted (everyone does it). We feel more at ease when things feel familiar, and we feel more secure in who we are when we believe in (or against) something. The more familiar, the more it resonates. The less familiar, the less right or natural it feels, and the less we trust it. The more deeply we fold our identity into the familiar, the more difficult it becomes to change. That’s why will-power is so hard; you’re working against your identity, against familiarity: I’m a smoker, and I’m trying to quit. It’s easier to quit when you identify first as a non-smoker, or better yet, a person who makes healthy choices. So choose your mantra wisely.
Some popular mantras:
- I’m not good with change (resistant, anxious)
- This is just who I am (finite, limiting)
- No, this is uncomfortable. I can’t be here.
- It didn’t work for me.
What about these instead?
- I’m present and in the moment (curious, responsive)
- I AM (infinite; unlimited)
- What is this discomfort telling me (to work through rather than abandon)?
- Why didn’t it work for me before?
Repetition: why not use this powerful, gazillion-dollar tool that advertisers and politicians use to turn your negative self-talk into a supportive, elevating one?
If you try this only when you need it, and only when you have time, it won’t truly tap to make lasting change. Repetition is key. When you expose yourself to repetition that supports growth and affirms your deeper sense of joy, you increase your ability to become more expressive and open. You believe in yourself more. You’re able to flow with change.
Change what you repeat
Repetition is mantra, and mantra is habit forming.
Mantra is defined as an often repeated word or phrase. Often repeated words and phrases become a part of your belief system, therefore your actions, therefore your life experiences. While mantra is associated with spiritual practice, its meaning reaches beyond that. Dictionary.com gives an example of this: If I hear the “less is more” mantra one more time, I'll scream.
Here are some other limiting mantras:
“I can’t do this”
“I’m not ready”
“I’m not good enough”
“I don’t do well with rules and schedules”
“I did it this way all my life”
“I don’t have the time”
How would these impact your repetitive actions, both on the mat and off?
Choose a different mantra.
Repetitive practice = like repetitive thought = like repetitive action
With the right kind of repetition, you’ll start to believe that not only are you capable, but that you matter. In fact, you’re iconic. This upgraded identity changes your habits. Your upgraded habits anchor you to welcome change.
This is my repetitive practice, my mantra:
- I meditate first thing in the morning to prime my day.
- I leverage my meditation by journaling immediately afterwards, setting the timer for just 2 to 3 minutes. Using a timer for such a short period of time doesn’t allow my ego to get involved, so I’m journaling from stream of consciousness. And it effectively segways my meditation practice into my day.
- I carry my insights forward into my day.
- I repeat this daily. Because of this, I’ve become much more self-referred, and my baseline happiness level has gone way up.
Do you get bored with daily repetitive practice?
Choose boredom over being sick and tired. Boredom is a gift that we lost to digital society. It’s a high cost that has made us more distracted, more dependent on being entertained and handed the solutions, and less inclined to go deep to root ourselves into what matters to us. Embrace boredom, get through the tantrums, delve into yourself, and it will magically turn into freedom. You’ll feel less anxious and more capable. Change becomes fun.