Why Is Personal Transformation So Difficult?Apr 26, 2023
Personal transformation comes in many shapes and sizes. It could mean different things to different people. It definitely means goals and experiences unique to the individual. As long as humans have gained sentience, they have pondered what it means to reach one's highest potential. For everyone, this search conjures up difficult emotions and behavioral patterns. This piece takes a high-level view at why personal transformation is so difficult, how the yogis view personal transformation, and what you can do to ensure your personal transformation efforts are successful.
Studies show that personal transformation programs have success rates ranging from 30% to 80% - the reason for such a wide range is dependent on many factors, including the criteria used to define success. With many factors determining 'success', there are even more reasons why personal transformation attempts may fail. Just a few reasons include:
- Unrealistic Expectations: This can be anything from speed-to-results, to degree of effort needed to see results, to aiming for results that are unrealistic and out of reach. Many become discouraged when progress slows or setbacks occur
- Lack of Commitment: This can be due to competing commitments, and many are committed to keeping things as status quo as possible, since change is difficult and consumes more energy. Many are not willing or able to commit the necessary time and energy to make lasting changes
- Lack of Accountability: Personal responsibility is both the ultimate source of accountability, and the most difficult to come by. Showing up for yourself every day requires consistency in an inconsistent world. Sometimes, working on one's own may not be enough when the path feels unclear and erratic
- Lack of Support: Going through change can be a lonely road. People are used to seeing the 'old' version of you. Anything that deviates from how you may be typically perceived, by yourself or others, can be hard to understand.
- Underlying Issues: This one pervades all the other ones. Transformation requires addressing underlying emotional or psychological issues. If left unaddressed, change will be impossible, and you are doomed to repeat learned behaviors and reactions.
Focusing in on that last one due to its pervasive nature, perhaps the most harmful thing to personal transformation are underlying, reinforced emotional and behavioral patterns and states. In Ayurveda, the Mind is the only shrota that can effect every single other shrota. Modern day neuroscience supports this idea - here is a 3rd grade explanation of how. When the mind tells the body the same things over and over again, a chain reaction of neurochemical processes occur, which end with the creation of a protein through the expression of a certain gene. When these processes are reinforced over and over again these neural pathways become easier to access, the body begins producing more of those neurochemicals in anticipation, and the brain and body begin to memorize your reactions, by repeating them over and over. In this way, our mind controls how every single cell is created, and what energy it is created with.
When we let these programmed emotional reactions rule over our subconscious mind, we recreate the same experiences over and over again without realizing it. So, every time one might say to themself, for instance, "I don't believe I am worthy of transforming into a better version of myself because I have failed so many times, and I will fail again," you are all but guaranteeing you will not truly transform.
The masters of Yogic tradition, with their wisdom, did not need modern day science to observe the phenomena of the mind and uncover the practices to unshackle oneself from its sufferings. Through the practices of Yoga (dealing with the mind), Ayurveda (dealing with the body), and Meditation (dealing with the soul), their inner world inquiries led them to The Middle Path. In the Yogic view, personal transformation is not about accomplishments or outcomes. This would be considered a very rajasic worldview - one that is pervasive in Western culture (think, the "hustle" mentality). The Yogic view is also not about doing nothing either. This is captured in the story that ended the Buddha's six years of asceticism. On the verge of death because of a refusal to eat or drink, Sujata provided the Buddha with a bowl of milk-rice pudding, immediately allowing him to see the pointlessness of complete renunciation, and guide him to The Middle Path - that subtle place where we balance between dual states (of, for instance, joy and sadness), without attachment.
So, while we must remove our attachment to things being a certain way, that doesn't mean we can't strive to set and accomplish goals. Here are some tips to deal with some of the reasons a Personal Transformation may fail:
- Unrealistic Expectations: Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It is the simplest and most effective change to make when dealing with expectations and outcomes.
- Lack of Commitment: Now that your goals are realistic, via setting SMART goals, you should have an appropriate amount of time and energy to commit. If you're still struggling, it might require an overhaul of what you view as Transformation. Question - is it really serving your highest purpose?
- Lack of Accountability: If your goals are SMART and you believe you are serving your highest purpose, but you're still falling off the wagon, remember that it takes 66 days to build a new habit in the body and mind. Hold yourself accountable to the process, not the outcome.
- Lack of Support: If your goals are SMART, you are serving your highest purpose, you are committed to the process, but you still aren't seeing change, you may need a gentle push from the outside. This sounds counterintuitive in a world where intrinsic motivation matters. But, motivation isn't always enough. This is where a strong community, or coach, comes in handy.
- Underlying Issues: The most important and the hardest to change. Practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Meditation enable the mind, body, and spirit to work in tandem, and achieve a state of "effortless effort" that is needed to detach from emotional and psychological hard-wired patterns. Practices like "Vishoka" meditation focus on systematically unpacking the mind to achieve equanimity.
There are many practices, communities, and programs that are dedicated to personal transformation. Because the Yogic traditions deal with the "underlying issues" we feel it is both the most difficult and most effective path to transformation that one can undertake. When we say difficult, we are talking about the direct experience of being an unattached observer to the body and mind's reinforced patterns - not difficult in that you need some sort of superpowers to experience it. However, many find this path to still be one of mystery, and one that is hard to measure and understand. We seek to demystify the spiritual path to personal transformation, by breaking down the concepts and practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Meditation and deliver plans that can be tracked and monitored.
If you're ready to take your yoga, meditation, or Ayurveda practice to the next level, we invite you to consider working with us one-on-one. Our experienced teachers and practitioners help you develop a personalized plan that addresses your specific needs and goals, and provides the guidance and support you need to deepen your practice and experience the full benefits of these ancient practices. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced practitioner, working with us one-on-one can help you unlock new levels of insight, clarity, and transformation. So why wait? Connect with us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step on your journey toward greater health, well-being, and fulfillment.
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