Feeding Our Habits
November 30th, 2018
written by Kristina Renée
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways — either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength"
— Dalai Lama
Everyday you are creating and feeding habits.
Habits are the very thing that mold our personalities, sprinkled in with biology, culture, social and familial conditioning of course. As we enter the last month of 2018, a month of holly and jolly cheer, it also comes with the stress of doing, shopping, entertaining and "making sure it all gets done in time." So easily we get swept up in the hustle that we forget why we are doing it all to begin with; we can forget that we have a choice in how we show up for ourselves and for others, always.
Every time we come to the crossroads of making a choice, we are confronted with our habits. The choice we make, usually unconscious, is either feeding our disconnection with ourselves or it is feeding our connection to ourselves. For example, let's examine your connection to yourself and technology. How often have you found yourself picking up your phone when there is a lull in a conversation or your friend on the lunch date gets up to use the restroom, or you are waiting at a stop light, the waiting room, standing in line at the grocery store? How about television? Do you watch it regularly and find yourself staying up later than you know is healthy for your body to finish that show? How about your relationship with alcohol? With coffee? With sugar? With porn? With working out? With gaming? With your spouse, partner or family member? With your co-workers? What habits are you feeding in those relationships?
Now notice how you feel reading this? Are you resisting or finding yourself to create reasons why you do any of these things? Perhaps, you are denying you do them or already want to quit reading what I am sharing with you today. You see, the television is not bad. The phone is not bad. Social media isn't bad. The alcohol isn't either. Nor are the sweets, the work outs, the Netflix binges, and the list goes on and on.
This isn't about shaming ourselves for our habits. We are creatures of them. This is about our inability to really hold our own space when things get uncomfortable. When we shut down, what habits do we form to cope with the pain? This is about the inability to truly be in the stillness of ourselves. And you see, it isn't that you can't do this. It is that a habit has been formed that blindsides you of making a conscious choice! And chances are that when you are confronted by it, in a way like I am doing now, bringing some light to the topic, your ego will fight back, cling onto this habit with all of its might. After, we find comfort in our pain when it is used as a coping mechanism.
But deep down, you know you somewhere that it doesn't have to be this way. There is a choice. We simply need to create enough space so that we can see it clearly!
You see your "brain is the primary mover and shaper of the mind. It's so busy that, even though it's only 2% of the body's weight, it uses 20-25% of its oxygen and glucose. Like a refrigerator, it's always humming away, performing its functions: consequently, it uses about the same amount of energy whether you're deep asleep or thinking hard (Rachel and Gusnard 2002, The Buddha's Brain)." Thus, when your mind changes, your brain changes. So, when you bring awareness to your unconscious habits, you not only empower yourself to move into choice based living, you also begin to re-wire your brain. The physiology of your brain actually transforms. And we know that the brain is the computer that speaks and operates the body!
Meditation is often misidentified as a religious practice to clear the mind of all thought and to constantly seek enlightenment. The reality is that meditation is not about that at all. Meditation is about making enough space so that we can see our thoughts, our emotions, our reactions and responses, our habits, our ways of unconsciously existing and bringing them into our awareness.
We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.
Mediation is a habit or tool that we can utilize to find transparency around how we choose to show up or not show up for ourselves and for others. What I mean when I say "show up" is to stay open and in connection from the heart.
When our daily regime becomes so unconscious, we rob ourselves of making choices around how we are connecting to ourselves and others.
Making space to really see clearly the chatter of the mind, known as chitta vritti in Sanskrit, invites us to slow down and become transparent to our relationship to yourself. This space lands us in the seat of the Aware Witness, and it is here that we can begin to hold the discomfort of life and our humanity with love and kindness. It is here that we heal and it is here that we become empowered to make choice based decisions for our lives. It invites us to into the deeper education and practice of choice based listening.
When we meditate we are literally re-wiring our brains. How fascinating is that? Every seasoned meditator, monk or nun, will inform you of the same thing: all the suffering you have in your life is a product of how you think. We have been given, from our ancestors and thousands of years of time on our Earth Mother this magnificent tool of meditation and mindfulness. Animals remind us of how simple this practice is. Our minds are more complex and thus get in the way. Mindfulness practices teach us how to navigate the uncertain territory of our humanity; to see clearly our habits and to make a conscious choice on how and which ones to feed. It is a practice, and in the Western culture of instant gratification, that can be daunting.
The most beautiful piece of this practice is that you can begin anytime. It simply starts with developing a new habit called, The Power of the Pause. It allows you to make some space, just enough to ask yourself: "how am I relating right now in this moment; am I moving towards connection or disconnection of my heart?" Many of my clients of Mindfulness Counseling find it liberating at first to start this path, also a little scary. Then after a while with ample tools in place and a deeper awareness of pain, self-love and habits, a loneliness tends to arise. This is natural. As we become more aware of our habits (good and bad) and make more educated and conscious choices around them, we start to change. Our relationships shift with ourselves, and with those around us. This is why having support is so important.
So where to begin?
There are lots of ways to begin mindfulness in your life. If you are here feeding your mind and heart with words and musings from my heart, then I imagine you trust my offerings in some way, and that you are curious yourself on how to widen your capacity for self-healing, inner peace and re-connection.
Contact me if you'd like work together in a safe, compassionate and confidential virtual setting. And if not with me, may you find a held space with some one to land for your own exploration.
Wherever this month takes you,
may your heart be open,
may your mind be spacious,
may your body be healthy, and
may your spirit be vibrant!
May the end of 2018 invite you to look back on the year
with love for all the lessons you have learned,
the memories you have made and
the joys of being alive.
And may you greet the New Year
with an open heart
full of wonder and awe!
Many blessings to you and yours 🕊
. . .