On the back of the festival of lights, I have been wondering how rituals and routines play such an integral role in the lives of us human beings. It is not that we do anything too different, yet the same sort of a routine brings about a sense of celebration and joy.
Sometime back, a friend had remarked that most of the self-help spiritual books get repetitive after a while; essentially, they speak about similar concepts, albeit the presentations may differ. Her observation may or may not hold but, it is essential to ride over the ‘boredom’ (if I may term it so) that repetition may bring. The reason is those useful concepts when repeated again and again find a sanctuary in our hearts and minds. They in turn, lead to growth and well-being.
Some studies claim that if we learn something new, most of it (there is some estimated percentage) gets lost from our conscious mind within 48 hours! This claim is verifiable for if I were to ask you what you had for breakfast a few weeks back, not many of you would be able to recall. Unless of course, you follow a set breakfast ritual 😁
The minds ability to absorb things that it intends to be useful for our functioning is quite an incredible gift. One can consciously use it for our advantage. I talk about this concept in a podcast episode I recorded a while back. Here is the link.
We understand through the study of the human brain that something becomes a long term memory in either of the two cases:
- There is some emotional experience attached to the learning/event, or
- Through repetition
It is not always possible to ensure we have a strong emotional experience associated with learning. But, one can always take the repetition route to ensure we can hold on to what we learn.
What To Repeat
You’ve got to choose where in life you wish to grow.
What is it that needs your mind’s attention?
Learning which new information adds to the quality of your life?
I pick spiritual knowledge as something that needs constant reinforcement in my life. I was sharing this with a dear friend lately that even though I did a proper systematic study of the Bhagavad Gita at the beginning of the year, yet now as I go through it again, I find newer realisations. Many things seem to go over the head as well— the things I thought I had grasped! To give you another example, the great epic Ramayana is something I have been hearing and reading since childhood. Still, as latest as last week, I gained a newer dimension in understanding some of the key concepts of the story.
I find a lot of value in being able to repeat spiritual concepts. They help me evolve at the various stages of my life, whenever I take their shelter. Same goes for books aimed for self-help as well. Usually, when we read such books, our minds are exposed to new ideas, all of which may not apply to our current scenario of life. As one reads them, one may pick one idea (or several) which appeal to us and try and work with it for some time. Later, we can gather more or ignore what does not apply to us.
I have realised that so often I have only just paced through many personal development books and content. Had I only done that with only a handful of such books, I wouldn’t have managed to find the kind of value I have throughout my adult life. I categorise my former self as someone who read but didn’t prioritise to apply. Even then, I can humbly state that I have managed to improve. Because as I said, if we keep exposing ourself to an idea (hopefully a positive, uplifting one), we can find that the idea propels us towards growth.
In his groundbreaking debut book, Atomic Habits, James Clear gives a beautiful insight about champion athletes. In the book, James mentions that champions aren’t the ones who always enjoy following the routines. Champions are those who stick to the routine despite the boredom (I paraphrased what my mind grasped from the reading I did at the beginning of the year).
When we begin something new, it is usually exciting; however, we gain only when we have the mental fortitude to repeat it. This holds especially true for meditation, Japa or even for activities like exercise, eating healthy, sleeping early etc.
I leave you with a question to contemplate dear reader:
What needs repetition in your life? How do you stand to gain from it?
Do share with me your thoughts about the topic and what was your takeaway from this blog. Thank you so much for giving your time to read this.
God bless you with joy and growth.