Dissolving a Habit

If you like this kind of thing- tips and tools for self-coaching- you can sign up for the Move Into Change Newsletter here. Below is an example of one type of content you’ll get.

DISSOLVING A HABIT: 5 IDEAS FOR A PLAN

The sink in my new home is across from the stove to the right instead of beside me to the left, the way it was in my old place. No big deal, except each time I want the sink I turn to the left before I realize that it’s the other way.

This habit of turning to the left worked well in the old kitchen situation but doesn’t here. That’s the way it is with habits. They may have worked before but now, they don’t.

50shousewifeNo, not really me.:)

Habits exist so that we don’t have to think so much.

Imagine if we didn’t create habits. We’d be rethinking all things all the time. We’d be up in the middle of the night deciding which way to get to the bathroom, or thinking about how to form the letter “a” while trying to write our thoughts.

We’d be exhausted and still never get beyond inventing the wheel…or to the toilet in time.

Habits, a.k.a, patterns, put us on “automatic,” resulting in large parts of our lives being better. Easier.

We can thank our brains for this ability to be efficient.     Basal_Ganglia_and_Related_Structures.svg

The Basal Ganglia, is a big player in habit making.

Every habit we have serves a purpose, some way it made our life better at the time we made it, though that purpose may not be as simple, or obvious, as getting to the sink quickly with a hot pot of pasta.

So what to do when a pattern no longer helps us?

When the mindlessness of “automatic” makes it difficult to be as healthy, productive, creative, kind, or as loving as we desire it’s time for a change.

Luckily, our brilliant brains are adaptable too. Some patterns re-adjust or shift on their own, subconsciously, the same way they are made. I’m sure that I’ll soon have a new pattern in the kitchen and that cute little spin I do at the stove will disappear.

It’s trickier when a habit  doesn’t change on its own.

If it’s an old habit, chances are it’s not going to shift as easily as my kitchen example. At this point, dissolving a pattern requires coaxing its reasons for being out from the gray world of rote behavior into the brighter light of gentle inquisitiveness.

It requires mindfulness.

And a plan.

A plan unique to you.

I hope you’ll use the following 5 elements to craft such a plan. When I work with clients I use these very same elements. A recent client stopped smoking, another is exercising every day, and another is making different food choices. I quit biting my nails years ago by incorporating these elements into a plan.

  • Do things that help you learn about yourself and your body like journaling, meditation,  PauseAbilities,yoga, therapy, energy work.
 
  • Find ways to quiet the judging and shaming yourself for having this habit, or waiting too long or not moving fast enough or whatever way you shame or “should” yourself.
  •  Start learning about the needs you are meeting by maintaining this habit. There can be more than one current one, and older ones too.
  • A. Cut down slowly and intentionally. B. Introduce new behavior that meets the needs behind the habit.
  • Celebrate the small victories! They add up and keep momentum flowing.

All 5 elements are equally important to creating the type of plan that doesn’t emphasize outer or inner work, but integrates the two.If you like this, please share it. Responses, comments and questions are always welcome.

Judy
Advertisements

Meditation Monday: Yes

middle pillarA hummingbird mind. Beating wings and long beak hovering for just a second first at my forehead, then at some thought about ancient crowns and wreaths and then onto wondering where to focus my attention – that shoulder…this rise of my ribs- it kept moving until I noticed.

I didn’t count breaths either. As I write, I’m considering how I might justify my choice to meditate on a quality instead of counting breaths. Hide my transgression – I didn’t follow the rules. So there it is.  Now that I’ve said it, I can move on from feeling like I’m supposed to “know” about meditation. I don’t, and really, who does?

Right this moment I know this; I went inside, I sat, I breathed, I paid attention. The part of me that usually “watches,” which I thought was that “witness” so often described in meditation literature, turned out to be more of a gatekeeper. Keeper of the list. Some things are allowed in, others are not.

I reminded myself to explore this new insight later… and then there was something more, something “other” than the gated domain and the opinion of the gatekeeper.

“Yes,” the quality of YES.   Hanging out there (with a yes that feels different from the yes that comes of “I can’t say no,” or the yes of, ” I’m afraid if I don’t say “yes” the opportunity will disappear,” and more solid than the over-excited- bordering -on- anxious – type, yes), breathing, watching, listening, I heard,

It depends on who’s looking.” It depends on who’s looking.

Yes. Separating the looking from who is doing the looking. Or at least, being aware that who’s looking is in charge of what I see, which may be far less than what I can know.

You can sign up for occasional emails with tips and tools for self coaching and more, just click moveintochange.com  Then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Meditation Monday: Why Not?

middle pillarYesterday I spent the afternoon in a circle of writers. Why not?

My friend Steve Lewis gathers his friends and writing group members for an annual summer day response to a prompt. This year it was, “Why Not?”

I could be a listener or write something too. Why not?

Why, not?

Oh, and it had to be exactly 87 words.

I wrote something I didn’t much like.  I chickened out  when the time came. But, I was inspired. And, they were nice people too. Why not now?

Premeditated Chatter in Exactly 87 Words

It’s too hot.                                                                                                                       It’s too cold.

It’s very dark,                                                                                                                        I’m too old.

I could just work, my emails ding.                                                                                  Don’t be jerk — think about other things.

I can’t sit still,                                                                                                                   my desk’s a mess,                                                                                                              my hair is dirty and I confess I don’t much want to meditate.                                      Besides, I just ate.                                                                                                           Aren’t I supposed to wait an hour or two?

My bed’s unmade,                                                                                                           My hair is dirty,                                                                                                                      Oh my God it’s now 9:30!                                                                                                     I can’t, there’s a deadline today…                                                                                    Why not count breaths anyway?

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about life coaching and coaching with me. You can sign up for occasional emails with tips and tools for self coaching and more. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Meditation Monday: Exploding Heads

middle pillar

Last night my son wanted me to watch animated Youtube video – something that made him laugh.  It was made from clips of singing Disney princesses doctored so that in each clip there comes a moment when the heads of Snow White, Cinderella and their doe-eyed cousins are blown off, leaving their headless bodies dancing on and on.  My son thought this was hilarious. Me, not so much.

Though I’ve been known to rant about Disney perpetuating all manner of problematic images of women I bristled at the downright cynicism of this little video. And, I was offended that my childhood heroines (Geez, did I just say that?) were treated so shabbily.  Could it be that I’m attached to Belle and Ariel more than I knew?

Fast forward to this morning’s meditation. I’m watching and breathing, breathing and watching, when I notice that I’m seeing blobs of color ebb and flow in and out of my visual field. The reds, blacks and yellows are spreading and receding in a rhythm.  I wondered if I was “seeing” my breath, but no, it was much faster than my breathing. Was I seeing my actual pulse? Letting that thought go, I synced my breath to the beat of the blobs.  Everything went still…yet my breath was still going in and out, evenly.  The thought, “Who is breathing?” passed by, but the the possibility of an answer made me feel like my head might explode. Not knowing what else to do, I got up and continued my day, doing what I do, singing my song.

Head explode lately? I’d love to hear what meditation is like for you.

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about life coaching and coaching with me. You can sign up for occasional emails with tips and tools for self coaching and more. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Meditation Monday: In the Mood?

middle pillarI got up and then sat. It was that simple.

Not always so.

Years (many) ago when I first began practicing yoga and  rarely meditated, I read that in order for meditation practice to take hold it was important to set up a routine, to practice at the same time every day, and to sit with a tall spine, all this  because yoga is a discipline.

Sounds right – only my whole being rebelled. I knew a thing or two about discipline. I was a ballet dancer. I knew about showing up even when you didn’t want to, and about willing to snuff out hunger and pain.  I wasn’t interested in that anymore. How was I going to do this new thing, without doing that old one?

I don’t know why, but I let my mood dictate when and how I practiced.  The circumstances in which I felt comfortable enough to even try to get quiet were limited. The air temperature, the amount of privacy, my clothes, and tension levels in my body and mind, all had to be comfortable enough for me to even try. It seemed the only way.

Yes, there was a nagging voice that questioned whether I was just being self-indulgent, but I continued anyhow, trusting that if I started honestly, I’d know when I was ready for the next step. Eventually, yoga  became a daily practice, then a longer daily practice, then I attempted an occasional 5 minute meditation until I felt it was time to get even more serious with 100 day 100 breaths.

Today, today, I didn’t have to be in the mood. I just meditated. Not because I had to, not by rote, not because I wanted to or didn’t want to, not because I promised you I would. Just because I did.

It may not work for you, but it might be worth a try. What happens if you work with the needs?

While the advice you’ll hear – like how to get a good meditation practice going –  is often “true” and good advice, no one – no one – can know your unique needs.

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about life coaching and coaching with me. You can sign up for occasional emails with tips and tools for self coaching and more. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Meditation Monday:

middle pillarWhen the world quiets to the sounds of your own breathing, we all want the same things: comfort, love and a peaceful heart.                                              – Mitch Alborn

This is all I want from meditation right now, the chance to sit and listen to my own breath and see what happens. Though I said I’d play around with The Middle Pillar, which I have done, I keep craving the simplicity of counting breaths.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was, start where you are, and in this case, for me, it means not getting ahead of myself (hey, a head, ahead, just saw that as I wrote it). It means re-remembering to  listen to the part of me that knows the value of sitting, counting, and Mindfulness. Not my “head,” I might add, but you knew that already.

I’ve quit pretending that I need to do anything else, for now. Just doing that, sitting everyday (even though I accomplished 100 Breaths 100 Days challenge, and there’s a voice telling me I have to something bigger, better and sexier so you’ll keep reading) is enough ’cause THAT”S WHERE I AM. Truly.Truthfully. Ahhhh…

*Reminder to self: expertise (a.k.a. mastery) doesn’t mean knowing everything or doing everything right already, it means having the Presence and skills to return to the truth more quickly and with more ease each time.

In case you’re curious about how the Middle Pillar Meditation has been going I’ll say this,

  • I struggled with it feeling unreal, like I was imagining instead of sensing the energy moving.
  • A friend and terrific multi-modality healer,  Ingrid Bacci,  suggested I need more practice articulating my spine and sensing into it, making the meditation physical/corporeal.
  • Started the above today.

What about you? What types of meditation are you doing? Have you tried Middle Pillar? You can find instructions here.

To learn more try Discover Meditation: A Practical Introduction to the Art of Meditation by Simon Court.

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about life coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Wednesday Words

mind-controlWhat consumes your mind, controls your life.                                                                    – Elizabeth Gilbert

When you pause to observe the thoughts you are thinking, the feelings you’re feeling, which ones crowd you? Which ones lead immediately to an action? Did you notice you had a choice? If not, there’s wonderful work to do!

Care to explore ways to live your life with less reactivity – more joy, more balance, more freedom? You can find me at Move Into Change.

Please share, Thanks.

Meditation Monday: What kind of fool am I?

middle pillarHere’s what’s been going through my mind and body while practicing Middle Pillar Meditation:

  • Am I doing it?
  • Is this what its “supposed” to be like?
  • Am I imagining this a.k.a. how do I know this is real?
  • Am I total fool for even thinking this is a thing worth trying?
  • How the hell am I going to write about this?

Funny isn’t it, these are the same thoughts I thought when I began 100 Breaths 100 Days.

Visualizing and sensing the balls of energy is hard enough so I’ve totally abandoned the colors. I notice that images form unbidden when I am focusing on the energy centers. This is kind of cool and I’m just letting that be. They’re different every time. If  I practice yoga first, I have a much better sense of the subtle “tube” through the center of my body. Lately, the connection between imaging and sensing is getting a bit stronger too, but man, that inner skeptic comes in to remind that I’m probably making it all up. She rolls her eyes. Even so, I continue on…

What about you? What types of meditation are you doing? Have you tried Middle Pillar? You can find instructions here.

To learn more try Discover Meditation: A Practical Introduction to the Art of Meditation by Simon Court.

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about life coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com