“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
I came to Mindfulness through the book by Professor Mark Williams – Mindfulness, finding peace in a frantic world. You can get further resources from the associated web site at: http://franticworld.com/
One of the exercises in the book I really like is called “Habit Releaser.” I would encourage you to give it a try. All of us have habits. After all that is mostly what our lives are founded on. Whether it is cleaning our teeth, having a wash, shaving washing our hair, getting dressed, driving our cars, going to work, and so many more. Our lives are surrounded by habits.
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 which chair or sofa you normally sit in at home, at a meeting in work and then sit somewhere different and new. Or perhaps you could drive a different route to work. Anything.
Mindfulness helps you to stand back from your thoughts and view them objectively. It helps you to engage with moment to moment living. Mindfulness, is not just the practice of meditation, it is being mindful in the present moment. Don’t forget, Mindfulness is NOT about clearing your mind. In fact, mind wandering is needed for mindfulness. It is the directing of the mind, that is the key.
In the book, the authors provide some examples of “Habit Releasers.” Why don’t you stop for one minute and write down all the habits you practice on a daily and weekly basis, no matter how mundane. You will be surprised how many you have. Here are some ideas you might want to try yourself.
. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand, or look at the non-brushing hand whilst you brush your teeth.
Brushing your teeth is something that everyone does. Hopefully, at least twice a day. but the goal is to become aware of when you’re out of touch with the present moment. How much more would you have to be present and thinking about this activity if you switched it over and used your non-dominant hand?
. Sit somewhere different
Be honest, how often do you sit in the same chair or sofa out of habit? Whether it’s the sofa at home, the chair or desk at the office, or where you like to sit when you are out with friends. I noticed when I was in a coffee shop recently, a group of people arguing as to who was sitting in someone else’s seat. Comments like “you are sitting in my place” make you realise that people are comfortable with this habit. So, instead sit somewhere else, and use this as a cue to shake things up and be present.
. Take a different route to work
Autopilot is one of the worst things about going to / from work. So many times have I completely forgotten how I drove to work and get back and think, “Did I really just drive that?”. It would appear that we are either daydreaming or more commonly, we are on autopilot. This can be really dangerous. Have you ever got to a road junction and turned left or right as you always did, without looking for other traffic users. Just because for the last 20 times, there was no traffic there, it only takes one time, for disastrous results. So to break out of this habit, find a new route to take when driving. Mix things up, check out some new scenery, concentrate on a new route and become aware of your experience.
. Put down the TV remote for just one day
I don’t watch much television these days, but there was a time when I could get lost in the distracting world of the square mind numbing box. Hours would pass without me even realizing it. Watching TV can be a very mindless activity. It is completely passive as an experience. It makes us waste time we could devote to other valuable things. So why not do a day without the TV. and notice what you do instead. Do you read a book? Talk to friends or family? Cook? Mend something? Start an activity you have put off, since you do not have “time” which you have wasted watching the TV!
. Throw away clutter
The girls hate me for this. They think I am some sort of tidy freak. I am not. I look around the house and see all the things we have collected over the years and realise that most of it, has no sentimental value to me at all. I know that can be odd. People keep all sorts of things to help engender memories. However, at what point do you say “enough is enough”? I like to try to clear out things that I have not used for a year or so. If they are of any use, I will give them to friends or even to charity. I know this one is potentially the most controversial “Habit Releaser”, but go on, do give it a try.
. Go for a walk somewhere new
Walking can be a very relaxing activity as well as one that helps your fitness. I have been participating in a Global Challenge at work and managed through a lot of effort, to walk about 15,000 steps every day. I have had to find new paths to go along, else the same path every day becomes boring and repetitive. Get out in nature and find a new path you can explore. Go for a walk and be present and mindful of your experience. Notice the sights, sounds, and physical sensations with each step you take.
These are just a few ideas to help you pay more attention to life and stop those “habits”. If you’re feeling a stuck, pick one, or a couple of these ideas to help you bring more awareness to your experience of life.
I leave you with the following quote:
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free