In this article I am going to introduce you to our famous “Dharana 21 Day Challenge” and show you how to properly do it yourself. It’s very easy! This brilliant system helps you to grow in all areas of life by providing necessary structure and favorable circumstances. Doing this you will easily reach your goals!
Before starting to explain the method I am going to introduce you to the background. Why 21 days? Well, it’s said (here) that this is the minimum time it takes to introduce a new habit into our life. But be warned – it doesn’t take 21 days to actually make it automatic. So this is not another one of those “21 day magic pills to totally change your life” 😀 I actually chose 21 days because it’s a very nice time frame to work on specific skills. It’s neither too short nor too long.
And this is what the challenge is for: It will help you to develop clarity of intention, work on specific abilities and measure the outcome of your efforts. This will take your spiritual practice to the next level. It counteracts the negative trait of dabbling and aimless practice. These obstacles can keep you on the path for long amounts of time without actually manifesting solid results and deep experiences. So let’s just take it as it is: Take 21 Days to work on a specific skill in order to achieve a specific outcome.
Now go and get yourself a beautiful diary that you will only use for personal development in the form of these challenges. You will need it to record the steps and measure progress on the path. It will also serve as a map describing your inner journey. It will show what has worked and what didn’t.
First Step: The Name
This is really simple. Find out a cool name. Think of something that inspires you. It’s going to be the headline of your challenge. Make it funny, crisp, short, profound – unleash the dragon of creativity and let it dance into your header. But hey – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Sometimes/mostly simple is best!
Some examples: “Finding the Light of Gratitude”, “21 Days of Mindfulness” or “21 Days of Glorious Superpowers to Destroy the Castle of the Ninjas of Darkness and Establish Victory for the Rainbow Warriors of Meditation and Peace”
Second Step: The Goal
Now find out what you want to achieve. What do you want to manifest within those 21 days? Please be realistic and gauge your abilities and your times well. It’s very important to be as specific as possible when thinking through your outcomes. Make sure that it’s something positive that you can measure. So instead of “I want to be less tired” go for “I want to do an afternoon nap everyday from 2PM-3PM”
Bad examples: “I don’t want to be angry”, “I want to spend less time with my phone”, “I want to be more happy”
Good examples: “I’d like to become mindfully aware each time I’m getting angry at work – then take a deep breath before I react”, I’d like to turn off all devices each evening from 7PM onward”, “I’d like to introduce one grateful thought/feeling at least three times each day”
See? In our good examples I am using positive instructions and I am trying to be specific. Do the same when you write down what you would like to accomplish within 21 days.
Third Step: Purpose
Here we introduce the WHY. This is a very important point as it’s the fuel of your 21 day challenge. Why are you really doing this? Why introduce a certain skill or quality into your life? What’s the point and what inspires you to embark on this journey? If you know clearly why you want to do this, chances are that you will complete the challenge well. Write down what moves or pulls you toward the accomplishment of your goal.
You want to use statements that evoke the emotion of: “HELL YEAH! I can’t wait to get started with this!”
Good examples: “I want to do this because I know it makes my life more meaningful”, “I know that doing this will truly advance my spiritual practice and give me a healthy sense of self-respect”, “If I do this, all my current problems (name them) will vanish”
Fourth Step: Time
Now that’s really easy. Write down when you want to start and the ending date (21 days later). I recommend that you don’t start immediately with a challenge but give yourself at least a day to prepare well, get your stuff together, write up the intro and look forward to the day when you will start.
Fifth Step: The Method
If you would like to build something and you really know why you want to build it you are almost done. Now you only need to know HOW to build it and what you need in order to get the job done. This is what this step is all about. I suggest to put up a set of around 3-4 rules. These should be things for you to do on every single day of the challenge. One of the rules should be about daily measurement of progress.
A good example:
- Complete 30 Minutes of Stage 1 Meditation each morning before work
- Brush my teeth and shower mindfully
- Document my experience each evening before going to bed in a few sentences
Go get em, Tiger!
Below I will simply demonstrate how this challenge could look like within your diary. It consists of the set up and the actual documentation of your progress. The set up is described in detail above. The documentation is depending on your own input. Here’s a possible example of how this could look like:
Name: 21 Day Gratitude Challenge
Goal: I want to increase appreciation and well-being by introducing positive thoughts and gratitude into my life.
Purpose: I feel that by doing this challenge I could enjoy a better sleep-quality. It would also help me to feel better about my life and connect with myself and others on a deeper level.
Time: Start on 1st of January 2018 – Last Day is 22nd January 2018
- Write down three things I am grateful for each evening. They have to be things that happened during that day. Also write down additional observations and progress I observe.
- Spend 3 minutes (timer) after each lunch to breathe deeply while feeling my body. I want to mentally recite the words “thank you” each time I breathe out.
- Read one well-written article about the benefits of gratitude each day to keep me going.
That’s basically the way I would structure the entries in my diary – but you are free to design the structure as you like it best and be as creative as a Ninja. The most important aspect is that you enjoy personal growth and the freedom it gives you.
To get you started with some additional inspiration I highly recommend having a read through Rebecca Temsen’s post (“How Long Does It Take To Form A Habit And Break A Bad One?”) on the same topic over at Self Development Secrets. It will provide you with some very interesting points to further benefit your practice and deepen the art of building wholesome habits that really last.
There you go! I hope you enjoy this process more with each challenge you create for yourself. I wish you loads of fun with this and hope that it helps you greatly 🙂
About The Author
Tobi Warzinek has been working as a spiritual guide and mentor since 2009. His journey started in early 2002 when he entered the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Rabten Choeling. He spent approximately 7 years in the community and studied the Tibetan language, mind-training and various meditation methods. Additionally he trained in traditional monastic debate and Buddhist philosophy. In 2011 he subsequently began practicing within the “Forest Tradition” in Thailand. Altogether he has dedicated his life to the exploration and refinement of introspection throughout the past 18 years. You can connect with Tobi on his page or on facebook.
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