Habits form the basis of our lives. Large or small, we build and maintain our view of the world on habits. From simple things like cleaning your teeth, through to driving a car, the ability to move conscious tasks into the subconscious means that up to 70% of our waking lives activities are habit based.
Even in Mindfulness, we can create habits. I have created the habit that very morning when I get up, I practice mindful movements, followed by a short 15 to 20 minute mindfulness meditation. The habits I created all stemmed from the fact that at the time I started practicing, we had eleven people living in our house – which was not designed to house that number of people – and the only time I could guarantee the space, quietness and bathroom time, was first thing in the morning, around 5:30am.
By the time the people had all moved out it was about 3 months later and by then, the habit was formed. I have kept to the habit ever since, for more than a year. Through spring, summer and into the autumn, the same routine has been there. The result in terms of being able to focus on the practice of mindfulness has been fantastic. The idea of a habit, has not really reared its head.
So what has changed?
One of the my family has come to stay with us for a while and that means I have had to change my routine. No longer can I just get up and go to the spare room and start the mindfulness routine I have created. I had to practice in the lounge and then go to get ready.Times of the day are a challenge, so to is the quiet. So, today, was the first day of this “habits upside down” approach to the practices I have followed for eighteen months. The results are interesting. I found the practice of the breath was more intense and far reaching. The worry and angst beforehand was higher, but this settled quickly. I would say, overall, that changing your approach and habit are of benefit. Even to mindfulness practice.
I wanted to remind you of one of the mindfulness practices, called a “Habit Releaser”. A “Habit Releaser” is where all you have to do is make a deliberate choice to break out of one (or more) of your usual routines. For instance, notice and take a different route you drive to get to work. Or perhaps something really simple, for instance, you could use the other hand to clean your teeth. Anything. I will follow up in a separate article on what you can do. I will trial the changes and see where it leads.
In the mean time, I leave you with the following quote:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”