Have you ever considered the fact that the world is made up of energy? We think of energy as a mystical, invisible force, but in reality everything is energy. If you are sitting in a chair right now, it certainly will appear as a solid mass to you. Yes, it is solid, but if you could shrink down small enough, you would see that it, and every other object in the world, is actually mostly empty space. The sensation and structure of a solid object is just the result of energetic bonds and forces within the atoms that make up that material.
In the study of energy that I teach, known traditionally as Sundo, we use ancient traditional teachings about energy to train our bodies, minds, and spirits. In regard to the mind, this means very careful attention to the choices we make, especially those that affect our health. What we call “habits” are simply choices that we have made over and over again in the same way, until they become automatic and hardwired into our brain. “Bad” habits are simply repetitive, automatic choices that are not serving us well. Fortunately, we can use energetic principles to change habits, rooting them out at the energetic level.
The Power of Visualization
Your brain, which is the physical seat of your mind, has tremendous ability to direct the flow of energy. Even if you were unaware of that, you have been doing that every day through the attitudes and thought patterns that determine the quality of your life.
But how does one change the energy surrounding a habit? Well, it starts with simple imagination. There is a saying in the ancient Korean Sundo tradition: “Energy goes where the mind goes.” That’s why you have to start with your mind itself, which is where any bad habit starts. For example, if you have a habit of overeating, you first have to be able to imagine yourself making better choices before you can begin to change. Here’s what I recommend for a daily habit-change visualization:
- Sit comfortably and relax your mind and body as much as possible. (You may want to do some simple stretching and meditation exercises first.)
- Visualize yourself going through your day, starting with getting up, getting dressed, and getting ready for the day.
- Imagine every step of the day happening without struggle or any negative emotions.
- When you get to the point where you are tempted to partake in your bad habit, imagine yourself making the best choice instead of the automatic choice. As you make the healthy choice, imagine a beam of bright light coming into the top of your head, filling you with real energy, instead of the temporary boost you get from the bad habit.
- After you conclude this visualization, stop and once again imagine a beam of energy filling your body as you make the right choice.
Releasing Dark Energies
Often, we develop negative habits because of some hurt or deficit that we feel. For example, emotional wounds might lead to overeating, and stress might lead to cigarette smoking. That’s why you must work on releasing dark energies from your body if you want to change. In a way, these things are energy vacuums that suck energy from us and that leave us wanting to find false energy through bad habits. Instead of feeling real energy, we seek out a sugar rush or spend hours surfing the web for titillating information. To remedy this, I recommend deep relaxation and energy clearing:
- Lie down in a comfortable spot on a carpet or a yoga mat. Breathe deeply, but naturally into your chest and relax your whole body as much as possible. Part your legs shoulder width and place your arms to the side at 45 degree angles.
- Begin to breathe more deeply into the abdomen and visualize releasing through the arms and legs with each breath. Relax more and more deeply, and imagine fresh energy coming into every part of your body. Imagine bright light filling your heart and brain, releasing you from dark memories and old emotional turmoil.
Keeping a Journal for Your New HabitGetting rid of bad habits is a process of replacing them with positive habits. Depending how deeply your bad habit is ingrained, you may have to repeat the above exercises for quite a while before you begin to see change. Brain scientists tell us that it takes 66 days of repetition for a habit to become ingrained in the brain, and I would say this is true of energy, too. Just like electricity follows the path of a wire, your energy will stay on the same track if you don’t redirect it. Practicing positive energetic habits, through the use of visualization and repetition, will help you create habits that build you up instead of tear you down.
I recommend keeping a journal during this period as a way of keeping track of your progress as you implement the above exercises. Don’t be surprised if you slip up; that is normal and natural. Don’t judge yourself; just try again. Write in your journal everything that you feel and see in yourself—the emotions, your hopes, your behaviors. Use the journal to try to help you dig more deeply into the energies that are driving the habit. You can ask yourself, “What old injuries am I feeding with this habit? How can I love myself in a better way?” Treat yourself with gentle kindness and compassion since your injured inner child is often at the center of these habits. And, whatever happens, keep going and keep a positive mind.
Pulling Up the Energetic Roots
Using energy to change habits is effective because it gets to the roots of the issues involved. But, just like pulling up a weed in a garden, it can take a lot of strength and it can be a bit disruptive. In the end, though, this is the only real path to change, and the more honest way to approach a bad habit. Deeply embedded habits are deeply embedded within our energy system, so will power alone can never be enough. To go deeper, look into your energy body and pull it out by the energetic roots.