Sometime in the fourteenth century, the Persian mystic and Sufi poet Hafiz said, “When all your desires are distilled, you will have but two choices…to love more and to be happy.”

But as we move through this world of work, relationships, money, health, kids, family, positions, and possessions, those choices of love and happiness can get lost in the shuffle. And as they become more and more distant, life starts to lose its meaning, and we begin to sleepwalk through each day.

We can intellectually ponder the meaning of this existence of ours, but what we truly seek transcends meaning; what we seek is the actual feeling of BEing ALIVE and LIVING our own personal meaning—our dharma, our purpose.

When our actions and behaviors become routine, we drift from our heart and away from our Soul’s purpose into an autopilot reality in which conditioned behaviors and reactions rule our life.

We ritualistically spin enough plates to “get the job done” each day, but our level of deeper fulfillment wanes as living our dream life takes a back seat to our daily conditioned rituals. The hard part is breaking the cycle, because sometimes the malaise of familiar discomfort overrules any higher choice we’d like to make for ourselves and creates a state the rock band Pink Floyd referred to as being “comfortably numb.”

Have you ever found yourself in a circular pattern of behaviors that has led you into a rut or perhaps even a canyon? In our minds, no matter what we do (including struggling over and self-debating our decisions) to break out of a downward spiral in choice making, focus, determination, or clarity, we find ourselves back at square one. In time, our familiar behavioral patterns take over and override any momentary wish to break out of that karmic hamster wheel of life, moving us away from our heart and into our head. Maybe you’re there now. It can feel as if a dreary series of behaviors is simply being dictated to us, and our role is to show up and comply from the place of familiar, conditioned numbness. When we are in this space, we miss the moment-to-moment miracles being offered up all around us, and we can drift into a dead zone that can consume years of our life.

There IS an alternative.

It’s you being awake to life’s miracles, being aware of the precious moments that unfold each day, and FEELING the fulfillment that flows in your heart as you drink in life’s unpredictable magnificence. This uplifting and joyous feeling can become contagious and unravel your negative cycles. When you find yourself emotionally paralyzed, trapped in default mode, or going through the motions, there’s an easy way to get back on track, step through fear, doubt, and regret, and return to leading your miraculous life with love, grace, and ease.

It starts easily enough with meditation—a gentle disconnect from the tens of thousands of repetitive and conditioned thoughts you swirl through your mind each day.

As the Buddha wrote, “All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we create the world.”

If our thoughts are calmer and positive, our lives begin to flow with greater ease and greater joy, and meditation is that balm that can soothe all of life’s challenges.

When you can connect to the present moment that rests within, you’re not simply slowing the speed of the thoughts pouring into you, you are actually disconnecting (if only for a few seconds) from the habitual spin cycle of conditioned thinking. And once the tiniest sliver of UNconditioned stillness and silence interrupts your conditioned flow of thoughts and behaviors, your moment of empowerment also unfolds, offering you a juicy opportunity for a new, fresh, and unconditioned thought to emerge—a new action and potentially a break-through moment in your life. These unconditioned thoughts—birthed in the fertile garden of meditation and permeating every new word and action—carry with them the potential to transcend the shackles of your conditioned behavior and the limiting beliefs that feed them.

Let’s say one of your less “positive” behaviors is not accepting help from people. Maybe you see yourself as a perfectionist, or you have control “issues” and believe only you can do things the right or best way, or perhaps you deny yourself because you think you’re not worthy or find yourself in martyr mode or victim mentality. In this mindset, when someone offers you some comfort, assistance, a new idea, or a helping hand, your conditioned response is to automatically say “no” even before they’ve finished offering you this gift.

The next time you find yourself in that situation, think of the acronym STOP.

S stands for STOP yourself from saying anything.

T is for TAKE a deep breath and put some space between the question or offer and your answer—even if it’s just a breath’s worth of time.

O is to OBSERVE whether the offer or support will actually help you (and let that settle in a bit). Don’t judge it, simply observe.

P is for POSSIBILITIES—the possibility of you stepping outside of your conditioned response and actually coming from an unconditioned place and then saying “YES” because you could actually benefit from the offer, even if you initially resisted it.

In time, you will start to shift out of your rut into more nourishing patterns as your ego and any stubborn pride you feel surrenders to positive transformation. Allowing some time between an interaction and your response is a key way to interrupt conditioned patterns in the moment. So start to implement the STOP process today, and you’ll feel the results instantly!

An even more sustaining way to effect change proactively is taking some time each day, from five to thirty minutes, to just BE. By simply closing your eyes and observing your breath as it flows in and out of you for just a few minutes on a daily basis, you will proactively break free from the swirl of relentless activity and connect more consistently with the pureness of the present moment. When you have a little stillness and silence rippling through your body and mind, you begin to be more receptive to your deeper needs. You will see the wisdom and benefit of receiving support from the universe, and in that moment—if you can be vulnerable enough to let others’ generosity wash over you—you will innocently begin the journey from your head back to your heart, which is your true state of BEing.

Introducing a little bit of stillness, a little bit of silence, a little bit of your UNconditioned self into the daily patterns of your life will loosen them up a bit. And as you open your heart to stillness and silence, you will begin to break free of any downward spirals or ruts in which you may find yourself. When you are in that new, fresh space, you will feel more aligned with the organic flow of life. As life flows more easily and you begin again to awaken to the miracles around you, your sweet heart will begin to open just a bit more, exposing life’s magnificence. From this renewed vantage point, you will intuitively “see” your highest, most-nourishing choices and more easily lean in their direction. And most importantly, you will start to love more and ultimately choose happiness.

davidji is an internationally recognized life guide, author, meditation recording artist, motivational speaker, and meditation instructor. Often referred to as “The Meditation Maestro” and “The Velvet Voice of Stillness,” he travels the world sharing timeless wisdom on cultivating a spiritual practice, modern-day stress management, emotional healing techniques, work/life balance, and finding deeper fulfillment through conscious choice-making. He was the Lead Educator of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and was appointed the first Dean of Chopra Center University. He is a Chopra Center Certified Vedic Master, certified to teach Primordial Sound Meditation, Perfect Health Ayurvedic Lifestyle Wisdom, and Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. In addition, he has a highly acclaimed CD Guided Meditations: Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full, hosts LIVE from the Sweetspot with davidji on Hay House Radio every Wednesday, and recently published Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation. To join the davidji SweetSpot Meditation Community, visit and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Join davidji in NYC! Friday, December 14—Secrets of Meditation Healing Workshop | Saturday, December 15—Liver-Palooza! Fundraiser for Terri Cole’s sister | Sunday, December 16—Book Signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square. For all event details, click here.

*Photo by eljoja.