Mindfulness Habit Releasers

“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.

[1]. 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?

[2]. 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.

[3]. 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.

[4]. 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!

[5]. 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.

[6]. 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

Being v’s Doing? The choice is yours

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”Narcotics Anonymous

As human beings, we spend all of our existence doing instead of being. We should in effect be called Human Doings. From the moment we get up in the morning to the moment when we close our eyes and hopefully fall asleep, we are in “doing mode”.

We think of ourselves as creators of things, rather than just existing. We are not content just to be, we are conditioned to do something or achieve something. The egoic drive in us produces our world we craft around us, but it can also be destructive. For instance in our constant need to control everything, each other and also ourselves.

So what are some of the characteristics of this “Doing” world we have created for ourselves?

Doing Orientation – Emphasizes action and proactive behavior Values efficiency and results

  • Status is earned (e.g. the work you do in your job). It is not merely a function of who you are. This means we constantly strive to climb that greasy career ladder.
  • Further, the status that you have earned is not automatic and can be forfeited if one stops achieving it, i.e. you quit your job. I recall someone I worked with who was a senior client director, coming into work one day and saying, I am giving this up to become an acupuncturist. When I asked why, it was because he wanted to help and support people, rather that strive for “success” as he put it.
  • Great emphasis is placed on targets, deadlines, schedules, and goals. Personally, socially and in the work environment, we set ourselves up almost with the intention of failure.
  • The doing tasks take precedence over personal relationships. When was the last time you thought about not doing something and instead just being with someone.
  • ………I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

If you then think for a moment of the “Being” world that we can develop and grow, some of the characteristics could include.

Being Orientation – Emphasizes contemplation and reflection Values quality of life

  • Harmony and a feeling of acceptance of everyone as unique
  • Extended family orientation where we want to spend quality time with those around us
  • Contemplative and recognizing the wisdom and knowledge of people,
  • We accept who a person is. It’s automatic and therefore open and honest.
  • Relationships should take precedence over tasks. More time is spent on getting to know someone before agreeing to do business with them

On a personal level, we have created goals, targets and tasks for ourselves. Losing weight; giving up smoking; getting that “dream” job, etc. Even when we take a break from work and go on “holiday” we tend to fill up the time with tasks and activities, rather than enjoying the moments of contemplation and of being with friends and family. The world around us.

When was the last time you just sat and did nothing. Completely. Absolutely. Nothing. Not even letting some of those 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts that cross your mind on a daily basis, invade that being moment? Go on give it a try.

I read an article by Mary Pritchard in the Huffington Post that really struck a chord with me. Check out the section I found of interest below:

Instead of looking at your day as an endless to-do list, what if you started each day with a question: “At the end of the day, how do I want to feel?” After you ponder that one, you can ask yourself, “What will make me feel that way?”

I’m not saying that we should all give up do-ing in favor of be-ing; rather, I’m saying we should let our be-ing inform our do-ing. So if I want to feel relaxed at the end of the day, trying to cram five more things on my endless to-do list that day is probably not going to help me accomplish that goal. Neither would multitasking all day in an effort to get more done.

So I challenge you to try this: Each morning when you wake up ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of that day. Sit with it and let whatever the feeling is float up to the surface. Then ask yourself what one thing will help you feel that way. **

I leave you with the following quote:

Nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to attend. Already complete, whole and endowed. – Heart Sutra

Taken from the following article: