Uncovering Habitual Patterns

Have we ever noticed how our lives are driven by undesirable habitual patterns? How we react, attack, and become defensive? How we get hooked by these habits? These patterns keep going all the time and cause destruction everywhere.
Through mindfulness practice we can learn to recognize our habitual patterns, discover how they affect us and those around us and learn to work with them.
Here an example in Pema Chodron’s words:

We could think of this whole process in terms of four R’s: recognizing the shenpa [habitual reaction], refraining from scratching, relaxing into the underlying urge to scratch and then resolving to continue to interrupt our habitual patterns like this for the rest of our lives. What do you do when you don’t do the habitual thing? You’re left with your urge. That’s how you become more in touch with the craving and the wanting to move away. You learn to relax with it. Then you resolve to keep practicing this way.

By accepting our undesirable habitual patterns, learn to gently and skillfully work with them, we soften, we gain confidence in our wisdom. Our negative habitual patterns turn from compost to fertile ground where we can plant new seeds.

Bringing Acceptance into our Lives

When we feel overwhelmed or shut down we are usually caught in habitual patterns, behavior and stories that separate us from our lives. It’s as if we were in a bird in a cage.

The way out of our cage begins with accepting everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience. […] It means feeling pain and sorrow without resisting. It means feeling desire or dislike for someone or something without judging ourselves for the feeling or being driven to act on it (Brach, 2003)

This process starts with becoming aware of the sensations in our bodies. By paying attention to unpleasant sensations we eventually come to realize how we hold on to stories and behavior that perpetuate our suffering.

When we meet these sensations and accept them for what they are, they begin to loosen. Instead of resisting or avoiding the unpleasant sensations we can open up to them, letting them be and allowing them to shift. This way we free ourselves from the stories and separation and experience what is like to be fully present and connected in the present moment.