Posts Tagged ‘Habits’

Are You the Director or the Actor in the Play that is Your Life? – Richard’s Commentary

October 16, 2014 Leave a comment

This is such a wonderful question Rosemary asks. It’s one of those questions that makes you go “hmmm”! It stops me and makes me think. And, it’s another one of those questions that take me inside, to examine, to evaluate, and maybe, just maybe to shift!

Here’s the key to Rosemary’s Exploration:

What did you used to believe about yourself, life, the world around you that might be holding you back today? Is it your unconscious mind that is the Director while you and your conscious mind are merely the Actors on the stage?

It’s those old beliefs, those old programs that run on automatic when our attention strays, when “unforeseen situations arise,” or when we simply get caught off guard in a moment of weakness.

Here’s a simple example that is trite but true, a cliché of our times: driving in traffic I still find myself getting upset by unconscious drivers who are in some way impeding my progress! Then I realize I am being unconscious myself in my angry reactions. I take a breath, go briefly inside to remember my impatience is getting in my own way, release frustration and then move along more smoothly – until the next inattentive driver annoys me!

This is a life-long habit. I probably learned it from my father, even though in rural Wisconsin he did not face the driving difficulties we have here in the East! I know I am being the Actor in my little stage play about driving in traffic and my unconscious mind is the Director in this play. It is a hard habit to break and I get plenty of opportunities to practice!

I find my breath work, as part of my Qigong and Yoga practices help me overcome, or at least recover from habits of a lifetime. As long as I remember to breathe intentionally I can short-circuit the old programming and my conscious mind can recover control and direct my life.

Here’s how that works: one of my practices is to employ the Hamsa mantra as taught by Swami Muktananda (ref: I Am That The Science of HAMSA from the Vignana Bhairava). This is probably the simplest yet most profound mantra in the Yogic tradition. “Ham” means “I am” and Sa means “that.” It may also be seen and pronounced or read as So’ham “that I am” depending on personal preference and breath flow.

Ham is the sound of the breath as you inhale. Sa or So is the sound of the breath as you exhale. My natural breath includes a more lengthy pause after exhaling so I use Hamsa as my breath mantra; in other words it seems more natural for me to inhale before I exhale. Practice both ways; if it seems more natural for you to exhale first then So’ham may be the better way for you to use this key mantra.

For that matter you can even use English here inhaling on the “I Am” and exhaling on the “That.” The real key is to become aware of the breath and then become intentional about breathing through the recovery from habitual action and reaction you are working to reprogram. As Rosemary writes:

You can’t just decide to do things differently and have your unconscious mind let go of those old beliefs. They are programs that are running all the time. They are beliefs that trump conscious decisions many times. 

The work is to go inside and uncover the programs and reprogram your mind.

Breath work is an excellent tool to aid you in the reprogramming effort.

Gates, Thresholds, Departures and Arrivals!

April 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Yesterday I posted a long sequence from my “Morning Pages” (The Artist’s Way) about change. I woke up that morning a bit on the irritable side and my mood was exacerbated by a series of innocuous events that sent me immediately to my pages, often a respite from the world of other people!

I took time to breathe, to reflect and to move into a whole new frame of mind. It was then that I decided to dismiss Mr. Irritation from my life. And one of the triggers that ushers irritation into my life is a violation of the rules, my rules. So, I decided that Mr. Rules needed to be dismissed right along with irritation, since they so often seem to enter my life hand-in-hand.

If you read yesterday’s post you may believe that I finished my pages and skipped across that threshold I describe and swept into Happiness! Well, I don’t know how things go for you, but as soon as I let the Universe know I am moving into a new space, a whole new pattern of being, I am immediately tested!

I re-entered the world of other people, opened the refrigerator to make my morning smoothie and out flew an open box of Yoohoo leaking a chocolate flavored concoction all over the bottom of the refrigerator and the kitchen floor. After a few choice words I tossed the container into the sink, thereby splattering more brown liquid everywhere (OK, my toss was not gentle!).

I took a breath, muttered a bit more about rules and open containers and finally caught myself (and the Universe) in the test of my commitment to a new behavior pattern. Yes, Mr. Irritation and Mr. Rules had not gone far at all and came knocking at their first opportunity. And I was right there at the door to let them in!

Change is not easy! It’s easy enough to write about Gateless Gates, Thresholds of Joy, Departures from irritability and a world of rules and Arrival into a new world of Happiness. I can picture myself in this new world; I can hold the image for long moments, especially while sitting on a cushion or writing or practicing qigong. But remaining there in that new world is a completely different exercise. It takes practice, lots of practice. The old habits influenced so heavily by Mr. Irritation and Mr. Rules are deeply etched pathways in my brain. New habits influenced by those fleeting feelings of joy and happiness barely scratch the surface of the neocortex and evaporate all too easily if not reinforced with awareness, repetition and practice.

Over the last few days I have been practicing often; in other words the tests keep on coming and giving me the opportunities to practice. And this is a good thing! How else will those mere scratches become indelible ruts of good, new habits? And as always it’s all about awareness, catching the old behavior and making the conscious choice to modify it as quickly as possible so the old ruts begin to fade as the new behavior “sinks in.”

Fortunately there are tools to help with this. All “consciousness building” tools can be put to good use: meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, journaling, prayer, contemplation, etc. are all methods to help build our conscious minds to come to our aid with awareness of every moment, every breath, to fill that awareness with realization of our True Nature and how to align our everyday behavior with that Nature.

How do you build your Consciousness? What methods do you employ to effect change in your life?