by Toby Maguire
A Taoist Master
"With our thoughts, we create the universe"
- Gautama Buddha
Whatever you wish to transform in your life, it should always start with the mind. When we learn how to change our thoughts patterns about something, we can change the choices we make with ease. This is called mind training and when you learn how to change the way you look at things, you can transform almost anything in your life, not just your body.
In order to do this, it is important to first understand that every decision we make in life is based on two things; gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. If we associate a particular action with pleasure, it will be very hard to stop. If we link an action to pain, we will do everything we can to avoid it. So, to change negative old habits into positive new ones, we need to associate pleasure with the new habits and pain with the old.
So how can this help us to transform our body?
The mind works by creating neural pathways in the brain that associate a feeling of pain or pleasure with our actions. For example, if you associate eating ice cream with a feeling of pleasure and then go on a diet and try to avoid it, every time you see ice cream, you will feel deprived and unhappy, because you are missing out on the pleasure that you believe it gives you. However, if you associate the thought of an ice cream with an unpleasant feeling, you will create a neural pathway that will have negative associations with it and you will therefore have no desire to eat it.
So how do you change your positive and negative associations?
Find a quiet place to close your eyes and relax for 10 minutes. For the first five minutes, imagine the habit you wish to change, for example, eating an ice cream and link it to negative feelings and thoughts. For example, you may visualize an image of yourself sitting with a bowl of ice cream whilst looking overweight, unhappy, lacking in confidence with oily, dull looking skin or any other negative image that springs to mind. Visualise this in as much detail as you can and contemplate how negative you feel. After 5 minutes, allow the colours of the picture in your mind to change to black and white and slowly allow the image to disappear. Then, for the next 5 minutes, visualise yourself eating something healthy and imagine yourself with a great body, looking happy, confident with clear, beautiful skin etc. or any other positive image of yourself that feels good. By continuously practicing this simple technique every day, over and over again, you will start to override your previous neural pathways of association and start to form new ones that will reflect the new behaviour you desire. As a result, you will be able to control the choices you make in your life.
Remember though that repetition is the key and even when you have achieved you goal of transforming your body, without continual maintenance of the mind, old habits can slowly sneak back in.
Transform your mind and everything else will simply fall into place.