My God, we get so stuck in our own sludge, our own habitual thought patterns (samskaras) and ways of doing things. I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling the heart's calling to reimagine it all and get out of my own way. It's not boredom, and it's not complacency, it's the human desire to feel alive. The beauty of yoga and it's profound wisdom reminds us that each moment is brand new, each breath a gift and to stay wide awake to the beauty all around us. And yet... we forget all day long.
Here are 10 simple ideas to help you shake things up, to remember the importance of spontaneity and feel alive again by intentionally making a few changes in our day to day rhythms. Try them out and let me know in the comments below if they were effective.
1. Choose a new tone for your alarm. It seems simple and way too obvious, but this little shift can make you wake up with a bit more curiosity rather than fatigued familiarity, or dreaded monotony – so that everyday feels new for awhile. The brain craves stimulation and newness to stay aware of it's surroundings and sometimes we just sleepwalk our way through it all. Try waking up differently tomorrow.
2. Go to a new yoga studio and practice with a different teacher. Seriously. Go now and take class with someone you've never practiced with, and better yet, a newer teacher. We get so comfy in our familiarities, we think we know all the cues the teacher will say and the next pose. We may even take pride in this. Temporarily suspend your knowingness and see the practice through someone else's eyes for a moment.
3. Visit a different restaurant, or go to your favorite but try something new on the menu. Believe me, I have my ruts and my go-to's. I notice what comes up when it's that deciding moment on where to go out and someone mentions something new. All the questions, 'Will I like it? Will I be satisfied? Will it be worth it?' What a disservice to the opportunities to expand and explore. Sure, maybe we'll be disappointed, but perhaps we'll also be blown away. Live a little. Variety is the spice of life.
4. Choose a new route home and notice something you hadn't before. Whether you always walk home on the same side of the sidewalk, drive a certain route or bike the same path every day, try to shake it up frequently and meander a bit more. Let your eyes take in new information, new subtleties and fun finds. When we do something over and over and over, it can lose the freshness that reminds us to stay grateful.
5. Meet someone brand new who you normally wouldn't. Ever notice how we gravitate to the familiar when it comes to meeting new people. Put us in a crowd and our tendencies will most likely lead us to similar people repeatedly. The next time you find yourself with the opportunity to meet someone new, search for a person you would typically overlook. It could be an opportunity for inspiring, fresh conversation – and new perspectives grant us new eyes to see the world.
6. Explore a new musician's repertoire. Music is a way of communicating that transcends the frontal lobe and analysis of words and their meanings. It's a great stimulant for creativity and abstract thought processes. It moves energy through the body, helps us feel emotion and nurtures the capacity for locating our body in space by aural imaging. Give a new artist a listen, perhaps a whole new genre, and see what it evokes for you. Dive in and go beyond your go-to playlists and even beyond what some algorithm serves you. Be inspired by new sounds, melodies and rhythms.
7. Pick up a brand new hobby. A couple months ago I posted on Instagram to crowd source some ideas from folks on new hobbies I could pick up. The ideas were numerous, creative and inspiring. I landed on juggling and so far... it's been humbling. But the new neural pathways are there, or at least budding. Doing, and committing, to something new helps us build new connections in the brain that can then inspire and transform some of the other activities we do.
8. Challenge yourself to memorize a poem or piece of prose. Years ago I committed myself to learning and memorizing the Hanuman Chalisa, a beautiful 40 verse poem in praise of Hanuman, the beloved monkey deity. While it took me a couple years to do it, yours need not be such an undertaking. Pick something that moves you, however short or long, and commit it to your heart. The human brain is so incredible in it's potential. Keep it strong and challenge it frequently!
9. Take a day (or week) off of social media platforms. As much as we think social media inspires us (and it may), it also has the potential to keep us in a state of distraction, comparison and unhealthy dopamine craving. Notice how often you go to your device, open up Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/TikTok and pull yourself from the moment in front of you. Social media feeds have become an epidemic and it's important to disrupt our consumption of them frequently. Turn them off, and maybe your device as well, for one day and see what kind of adventure you can get into.
10. Keep art supplies nearby and see what emerges. Our creative expression can sometimes get sapped by 0's & 1's, newsfeed dramas and Netflix binges. Try something else and keep out art supplies like colored pens/pencils, card stock, watercolors, body paints, etc. Even if you think you don't have any art skills, give yourself the permission to create YOUR art. We all have the ability to create and use our minds in different ways. Pro tip is to keep them somewhere readily and easily accessible so that there is zero barrier to your creativity.
I hope some of these ideas give you inspiration to shake things up a little bit, or a lot. This is your yoga practice, to be willing to see life as brand new in each moment. Remember, life is a fleeting thing. We don't want to turn around at the end and feel like we missed out on moments to be alive. Find even the smallest ways to shake up your habits, patterns and routines to step back into aliveness. If you have any other contributions to this list, please share in the comments.
May you always be inspired, in this year, this moment and beyond.