When I began the process of examining my life, I didn’t have the intention to achieve life-mastery – I just wanted to be happy. I wanted to make the necessary changes in my life so I could live more simply, have less responsibility and stress, and ultimately have more time and freedom.
I thought I would be able to change my life quickly and easily. I read books and enrolled in classes and workshops, obtaining a wealth of valuable information from these activities. But I soon realized that I was unable to retain most of the information I received. I was learning helpful tools and beneficial strategies for change – yet I kept returning back to my old way of being.
I met several people at the workshops I attended who were quite knowledgeable in healing and spirituality. They could talk avidly about meditation, yoga, natural health, and other related topics. They were familiar with many self-help and spiritual teachers and had attended numerous workshops. As I got to know them better, I realized that although they had intellectually mastered the knowledge – they were not living it. They were not bringing the knowledge they acquired into the practice of their daily life.
Many of us fill our brains with so much information – we are on information-overload. We move from one teaching to the next, absorbing as much as we can, yet we never stop the process of gathering information long enough to apply it in our lives. Creating lasting change in your life requires dedication, focus, consistent effort, and most importantly –practice.
It is not how much information we obtain, but what we do with it that matters. It is the mastery of each small step that creates lasting change.
When we acquire an overload of information it is hard to determine what is best for our lives. We jump from one practice to the next, applying the tools we have learned only partially or sporadically. We become the expert too quickly, without allowing the time necessary to really integrate and practice the tools we have learned.
No one, not even the greatest master, can make our lives better in the long term. They can offer us highly beneficial information to change our lives, but ultimately it is up to us to practice what we have learned – over and over again.
I began the process of changing my life by going on retreat for two weeks. At the time I had a very busy lifestyle, and I knew that although I wanted to, most likely I would not carve out the time to sit and reflect upon my life. I needed to get away from my normal routine and the daily distractions in order to create the lasting change I desired.
Going on retreat gives you the space you need to take a closer look at how you are currently living. It provides you with the time to decide what areas in your life you would like to change. You can retreat for a few hours, one day, one week, or take a longer period of time in order to gain more clarity about your life.
I returned from my retreat with a new life plan. I identified the steps I would need to take every day if I really wanted to simplify and live stress-free. Here are the four practices I implemented to create lasting change in my life:
A Daily Practice of Stillness
While I was on retreat I attended my first meditation class. It was during this class that I realized the value of sitting in stillness. I learned that through a daily practice of stillness you can connect more deeply with yourself and become clearer about your life. You can become more aware of the impact that your daily actions have on your life and begin to make conscious life choices that are more aligned with your true self.
Examine Your Life Every Day
I spent a lot of time examining my life in the two weeks I was on retreat. Yet examining your life isn’t a process you go through only once a month, quarterly, or at the beginning of the year – it becomes a part of your daily routine – something you place at the top of your priority list every day. A desire to examine your life more closely is a necessary component to create lasting change in your life.
A Daily Practice of Journaling
I started a journal on my retreat and found the process of writing about what I was feeling very valuable. Writing is a great way to explore your ideas. Putting your thoughts down on paper helps you to see the larger perspective and to get clearer about what you really want. A daily practice of journaling helps you to identify the steps you need to take, to track what is working, and to change what isn’t.
The Value of Weekly Support
When I returned from my retreat I found a guide to work with, one that was a role-model for living a natural, simple, and peaceful life. It is helpful to seek weekly support, to gain another person’s perspective, as they can see your life from the outside and provide a more objective view. Even though you may be closely examining your life on your own, it can be valuable to receive ongoing support to assist you with exploring any limitations that may be getting in the way of creating your best life.
Dedication to a daily practice helps you stay focused. It helps you to take action in small ways every day to refine and enhance your life. A daily practice allows you to shape your life into a masterpiece – revealing the true expression of your unique and beautiful self.