What to do when your actions betray your own deep knowing.
The familiar expression is ‘old habits die hard.’ Even when we are doing something that causes us pain, or prevents us from enjoying something we want in the present, we often continue acting from the outdated pattern. The habits we live by come from our history, our ancestry, our recent past, our distant past, and both yoga and Ayurveda are interested in freeing us from these patterns that keep us stuck and which are no longer serving us.
We can’t change what we don’t see. When I was in Ayurveda school my teacher often said that Ayurveda is the expansion of awareness. Ayurveda, the science of Life, that living body of knowledge that describes those things which support life and those things which go against life, begins with awareness.
I have been successful at changing patterns simply by paying more attention to them. For example, I wanted to get to bed at a certain time. I found myself habitually staying up later than that, night after night, online with unimportant media that I couldn’t even remember in the morning. My habit of staying up late and online was interfering with getting to sleep easily, getting up when I wanted to in the morning and with having as much time as I wanted to practice. In spite of those consequences, I continued to make the choice to stay up late over and over. I stopped judging myself about it, but began to pay more attention to the pattern. 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 later than I want, but not caught in the same unconscious pattern as before. 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.