1000 days to self-mastery is an intriguing and overwhelming thought. 1000 days, really?
What does this mean and why do it?
In the Kundalini yoga tradition I practice it is said if you practice a meditation or a kriya for 1000 days you will experience self-mastery. A kriya is a series of postures, breath, and sound that work toward a specific outcome. “Practicing a kriya initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes that affect the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.”
I finished doing a kriya for 1000 days yesterday – something I never thought I could do, and wasn’t sure I even wanted to do.
Did the earth move? No. Am I different? Yes. Have I mastered myself? Yes and no.
Unpacking The Experience
Why did I start this 1000 days practice? In assessing myself in terms of discipline, mental and emotional patterns and habits, I felt I needed to exercise more discipline and consistency in my life, and to stay focused on a positive, growth mindset more of the time. I decided to do a specific kriya that was focused on experiencing the infinite, which really means having no bounds or expanding my sense of limitation.
It has been interesting to hear others reaction when I shared what I was doing. Some said, “Ugh, I could never do that.” “I wouldn’t want to do that.” “Why are you doing that? What do you think is going to happen when you are done? What will day 1001 be like?” “Wow, really? That’s amazing!”
Well it’s day 1001. I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be except that the process of doing it is where I needed to focus: Be disciplined, don’t miss a day. During those 1000 days a lot happened in my life externally, and this practice is about tuning into the subtle shifts that take place internally, within my own consciousness. First, I am more aware of all of my limiting beliefs and ways I try to sabotage myself. Second, I am stronger in my sense of what it means to be committed to something – you do it no matter what – no matter how tired, scared, frustrated you are. You take the time to do it even if you are too busy or having too much fun with something else.
So, it is also in the process of staying with it no matter what, that broke some mental or emotional patterns while strengthening my sense of resolution. My sense of what self-mastery is, has deepened from the inside out through this 1000 day kriya. What is self-mastery? It’s largely considered to be about exercising control over yourself or your thoughts. I think of mastery as an ongoing quest where you continue to get better and better. There is no arrival or final destination. When you get to one point of excellence, there is always the next horizon of accomplishment to be met. We are never fully formed or baked, but always with the potential of becoming more of who we are meant to be, or could be.
Here is what I experience in this practice: It helps me structure my day and become more disciplined in general. It helps me hold open the aperture of the positive and what is possible longer. The actual practice itself leaves me feeling mentally and physically stronger and more present. And there is something to be said for just knowing that I could do this practice 1001 days – but whose counting?
What Do I Know For Sure?
It is supposedly a scientific premise that, to attain mastery over a craft is to practice it for 10,000 hours. In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell uses Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as examples of people who took 10,000 hours to master their areas of expertise. He says that, in the world of work, this mastery typically takes 10 years. With my practice, I was exploring mastery over myself and my personal process.
Whatever the right number of hours in mastery is, here is one thing I know for sure – practicing everyday with presence matters. It took me to new levels of awareness, which always brings change. This practice of questing for self-mastery is the practice of life. As long as we are alive, we are challenged to continue to reach greater levels of awareness which nudges us to be more of our most excellent selves. This does not mean being perfect. It means striving to be more of who YOU are meant to be.
My 1000 days has certainly changed me in some subtle and profound ways. I met a commitment to myself, for myself. This is huge and translates to how I show up in other places. If I can’t trust myself to come through for myself, how can I hold that space for others or expect it from others?
What is an area you need to focus on to better master an aspect of yourself, to take yourself to the next level of your excellence? Where do you need to be more focused or disciplined? Or perhaps your learning is to be less focused or disciplined? What will it give you to focus in this area? How do you hold the space for yourself even though – even though it’s hard – even though other people or stuff try to get in the way?
© Copyright 2017 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC. All rights Reserved.