Months and months: The slow sure way to build a practice

NOT my usual yoga attire.

That’s how long it took me to lock in a 15-minute yoga practice upon rising. Months and months.

Last winter my back went out — it hadn’t happened in so many years that I’d neglected my core exercises. 

Inspired by my brother’s 7-minute wake-up routine to stretch out his back and get warmed up for the day, I got serious about the short morning yoga practice I’ve long wanted in my life.

Should be easy, right?

Not for me. 

All went well for a couple mornings, maybe even a week . . . then poof. I began missing mornings. 

You know how it goes. You miss one morning and suddenly it’s easy to miss seven. 

Then I read that if you can make something 20 or 30 seconds easier then it’s more likely you’ll do it. I grabbed my yoga mat from the living room and stored it rolled up on my night stand.

Next I created a small drawer in the closet for the yoga wear I’d be donning in the wee hours of the morning. 

Yoga became a bit easier. I had tried starting with 20 or 30 minutes . . . but the day loomed larger than it should have in my mind upon waking. 

My brother’s 7-minute program alerted me to the fact it needed to be dirt simple, and dirt short

I started with 5 minutes. And then eased into 10. And have finally settled upon 15 minutes as my ideal. At least for now during our busy season. 

Winter in Florida is when we do massive business at the art gallery. Summer may allow for more time. 

It’s mental, I know, but I have to go with what I think I can afford.

The surprise

You always hear that you can form a new habit in 21 days. 28 days max. 

That wasn’t true for me. 

I found myself easily backsliding. On late nights the first thing I’d do is jettison the morning yoga practice. 

Then that one missed day would lead to another . . . .

It dawned on me that I can’t miss a day. Even if I backslide back to 5 minutes only, it’s the daily link that is important

Here I am, a year hence, ensconced happily in my morning yoga program. I almost never miss a morning because I’ve made it so damn easy not to miss. 

C’mon, the minimum is only 5 minutes!

It took me months and months of adjusting, months and months of progress and failure, months and months to lock it in.

What helped is this: I try to focus on only one new practice in my life at a time.

My wife and I meet with another couple every 6 weeks to renew our visions and set one simple goal for the next 6 weeks. I kept focusing on the same goal — a short morning yoga program — until it took!

It’s worth the slow process. 

My writing took off when I threw away goals and replaced them with a daily creative practice. 

Now I write more than ever. In a shorter time than ever before. And I have a creative practice for life.

It’s not going away. Because I took the time to figure it out

I took the time to figure out where to link it in my day. 

I took the time to note what triggers caused failure. 

And then ploddingly I worked around those triggers so that now I almost never miss a day of my creative practice.

If you have a big goal, figure out how to make it a practice. And then treat that practice as reverently as you would a spiritual practice. 

If it’s a big goal, then it is spiritual to you. 

There’s a kind of magnificence that settles upon you when you spiritualize something important to you. It makes it easier. You draw upon resources you didn’t know you had. 

Whether it’s a simple thing like a morning yoga program — or something so vital you can’t breathe without it in your life — like your creative quest — make it a practice. 

A daily practice, once locked in, will take you where you want to go. Unerringly.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

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