What do you do when your actions betray your deeper desires? When you find yourself doing something that causes you pain, or prevents you from enjoying something you want in the present, how do you make the shift to a more supportive habit? Or do you find yourself continuing to act out the outdated pattern even though you know it is no longer serving you?
When I was in Ayurveda school my teacher often said that Ayurveda is the expansion of awareness. Ayurveda, the science of Life, is a living body of knowledge that describes those things which support life and those things which go against life. The practice of Ayurveda begins with awareness. Yoga practice begins similarly. We can take an action without even knowing we are doing so--or we can take an action with intention in full awareness.
I have been successful at changing patterns simply by paying more attention to them. For example, I wanted to get to bed earlier, but I found myself habitually staying up late. I had a habit of scrolling through media that was entertaining at the moment, but I couldn’t even remember it the following morning.
This habit interfered with getting to sleep easily and then with getting up when I wanted to so that I could do my morning practices. In spite of those consequences, and the real disappointment I felt in the morning when I would feel tired from too little sleep, I continued to make the choice to stay up late over and over again.
I shifted this pattern by paying close attention to it. I noticed when the earlier bedtime came and went. I noticed I was choosing not to close my laptop. I noticed that I was surfing for something to watch online, not able to focus well on any one thing. I felt the desire to continue. After observing all of this and more for a few weeks, and feeling the consequences each morning, I made a shift. One night, the earlier bedtime came, and I simply closed my laptop and turned off the light. I do sometimes stay up late, but not for long. I am no longer caught in that unconscious pattern. It is much easier to close my laptop now. I have made a shift.
What old habit is getting in your way? Do you judge yourself for that pattern? If so, what if you were to let go of the judgment and simply became more attentive to the habit itself? Notice when it arises. How do you feel when you are engaging it? How is it serving you? If you give this a try, I’d love to hear what you discover.