I met with a student last night who was overcome with the seemingly endless list of habits she was now noticing within herself. “My God, it never ends,” she exclaimed. “I almost wish I had never started to meditate. Now, I see all of these auto-responses that I am living my life by.”
I smiled. Not with humor, but in understanding. Yes, deep meditation will remove the layers that you hide behind. It will open you up to the light of truth. You will have moments of enlightenment like this, when you see the reality of your life through the fog you have been living through; and this is not a bad thing. Because before you can get rid of the old habits that are holding you back, you must first be aware of them.
It is usually a shock when you first see how little of your life is YOUR life, and how much of it is lived through the choices that others have impressed upon you. The question is quickly not “why do I have so many habits dictating my life?” It becomes “what will I do with them.”
Will you continue to live your life making the same mistakes and living by the same auto-responses that you always have, or will you begin to peel them back and start LIVING THE LIFE YOU WERE MEANT TO LIVE?
So many people turn back when they first recognize a bad habit for what it is. That habit of yelling before thinking. Or reaching for a drink before you know why you want it. That habit of asking for the food that, while it may satisfy you in the moment, you will regret eating for days to come. Even that habit of listening to that small voice inside your head that leads to self-loathing. All of these come from the same place. And you recognize all of them through the regret that you inevitably feel after you have followed them.
The good news is, you can change, because as doctors, neuroscientists, and psychologists have found, the brain changes every day, based on the input you allow into it. If you allow your brain to respond in anger to everything that goes on around you, you will become a very angry person – at the world and with yourself. If you look down and deride others to feel good about yourself, you will begin to see all the ugliness in the world and in yourself, while seeing none of the beauty that is within and all around.
So the next time you feel regret for your actions, smile as you acknowledge that you have just recognized a bad habit that you can change. If you feel yourself act out of emotion instead of logic, smile that you noticed it, and recognize that you can make a different choice in how to act in the future.
Congratulate yourself that you have taken the first step toward enlightenment. Then stop, breathe, acknowledge whatever it is that you have done or are about to do, and let it go.
Then repeat a short mantra to yourself.
MAKE GOOD CHOICES
Because that is the way to change your life. Simple make good choices.
Take a meditative approach to life and start living the life YOU were meant to live – TODAY.
Stop, breathe, acknowledge, and let it go.