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Sunday, 22 December 2013

A Small Ponder on Habit.


Habit. What a word. One that seems to fill most of us with a sudden sense of ‘Bad’ - I should give up x, I should take up y, z is just part of who I am, but I wish it wasn’t and hope you can’t see it....

Yet there wonderful habits, too. Gratitude is a habit. Cleaning your teeth is a useful habit. Patting the dog as you put the kettle on for the first morning cuppa is a heart-warming habit. Add your own - find 3 before you continue reading!


Habit came to me this evening in a new way: a habitual thought response leading to familiar fear had flashed up before I could even think consciously. But I then saw that nothing about this habitual thought was either good or bad; it was simply a response that doesn’t suit the current moment. It was one from long ago. But somehow back then I made a tag to it and the thought connection keeps on happening.

I’ve attempted to suppress it over the years. I’ve ‘ignored it’. (Ha!) I’ve tried to understand it. I talked to it. I tried over-riding it with the opposite, often in the form of affirmations, but I think brains are all wired differently and that way works well for some, but not others, and it doesn’t work well for me. I’ve told myself this thought habit isn’t true, but the listener aint heard the teller....(which intrigues me as they are one and the same!)  So, I Have A 'Bad' Habit. A heap of ‘shoulds’ fly around in my head. And a lump of certain desperation to finally, once and for all, deeply and meaningfully Get Rid of It. And guess what? With all that resistance, Habit was persisting magnificently!

But tonight those words lit something up; A habit is simply a response that doesn’t suit the current moment. My thought didn’t fit what was actually happening, or not happening, tonight. And I could hold my habit, as it were, in the palm of my hand - unconditionally; able to observe it and not condemn it, and not run away from it. And if I opened up fully to present awareness of what was/wasn’t happening around me, the habit simply dissolved; it wasn’t relevant to now. The habitual thought was relevant to the memory of something past, but Not Now. And memory faded the more I was in the now - Present to What Is - and not re-telling the story and putting myself in the past.

So, in many situations, ‘beating habits’ can become a thing of the past - not all, of course, but a reduction is a brilliant start! Instead of ‘beating’ habits, hold them, look at them, be very present with them, see them, enquire about them, to them.... “Why are you here, now? You are not relevant to now. You’ve leapt in on a memory, which isn’t now. Your message doesn’t serve me right now, please go away.” And instead I begin to respond to what IS going on around me - the habit grumbling away as it sloths off, unwanted, into the wings. This is true of thought patterns, unhelpful attitudes, tightenings in the body as we move, association habits with furniture and 'life props', interactions with other people.... No more turning a blind eye to Habit; see it, let it happen so you can watch it closely, get to know it, really, really sense how irrelevant it is to the Now. (Unless it is relevant, but then it's not a habit; it's an appropriate, or at least current, response.) 

It may be still there, but I can repeat my question to it if it reappears. And the really good thing? Each time I am in stimulus-response, if I respond to the now and not to the memory, I reduce the fear a little more, and habits just LOVE fear! My reducing fear begins to starve the habit. Once it's starved, job done.

Let’s just hope no one invents a RSPH - Royal Society for Protection of Habits.... We might laugh at that, but boy, I see I have been paying into that one for Far Too Long! 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Grace at Winter Solstice

Tree House stone circle, by the light of the full moon...



Winter Solstice - a dark time, a quiet time, a still time, a contemplative time, a time of gratitude, a time of dreams, a time of transformation...

Yet, here in the Northern Hemisphere, madness reigns, buzzy music, scurrying people, jostling queues, minds way ahead of heads, heads way ahead of bodies, bodies way ahead of the date; the dark silent stillness forgotten in the noisy brightness of Christmas...

Yet even when moving, if I stop within for just a tiny moment, I can sense the seam of sanity running through all this. I sense the Something that watches over all this mayhem with a loving and amused smile. I am so glad of the Grace of this Something; I am glad Something remembers and is holding my dark, contemplative stillness as I rush around with lists. It reminds me that this place within never leaves me, that is as much me as the rushing me, whether I sense it or not. That unconditional place of stillness that still remains still as I move from shop to shop, cross things off the list, share season’s greetings with friends and fellow beings. As I remember things to not forget....

That Something is a Place that knows, exists, remembers and reminds - soft, dark, velvety calm. All knowing and all thankful - pure Grace. Waiting. Watching. Listening. Waiting and watching and listening for me - my thread of connection to the Winter Solstice; the time that forms a link from the light to the light, through the longest, darkest night. This Solstice heralds a birth. Our re-birth. A new start. A gift beyond measure, for which I am deeply grateful, no matter the over-lying busy-ness. Wherever I am, I can greet that still point in me - it always has been and always will be there - and let my grateful inner stillness kiss the Solstice. And that kiss will witness and declare the light, my light, your light, our light, at this time of Light. And the light will grow....

Blessed Be.