Friday, 31 August 2018

Mindfulness of Habits (1)

Our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving can be so habitual and automatic that we barely notice them. As long as they remain outside awareness, we reinforce them.

Every moment offers a potential for change, whether it be by one small degree or an intentional and wholesale refusal to run the same tired script for how to respond to problem x or situation y.

Notice how you can make a choice, right now, to pause reading and focus your attention on something else.

Notice how you can choose to move some part of your body or click elsewhere or engage in a different activity. Notice how you might choose to decline that invitation and carry on reading. Whatever you do, it’s your choice.

Being aware of how we respond in the moment is a gateway to greater possibilities. To become adept at knowing when we are in the grip of negative habitual patterns will likewise offer us easier release from them. The effort required is no more and no less than waking up from our compulsive reactivity to the spontaneous flow of thoughts and feelings.

Lost and Found

‘Waking up’ is something to be cultivated. Otherwise we dwell in customary states of blunt attention and dull awareness.

One time, on a train, I watched a woman standing motionless and staring at the carriage wall for several minutes. She was, as the telling phrase goes, lost in thought. Her eyes wide and unblinking, she was oblivious to everything around her, as locked-in to her experience as she was locked-out to everything around her.

Then, as if released from a magic spell, her eyes suddenly blinked, her body unfroze, and she was ‘back’, looking around, visibly startled at discovering where she was.

Her experience exemplifies many of the moments in all of our lives. Each of us has the capacity to be as absent to what’s happening as we have of being present to it.

Taking the Mick Out of Mindfulness

The commodification of mindfulness as a ‘feel good’ therapy prescribed for personal gain now has a name: McMindfulness . Such a package assu...