Habits are those dirty little rituals that creep into our life if we do them frequently enough and associate pleasure with the activity. All habits differ in consequences, but the nasty ones impact our lives negatively. Often, these stem from lack of awareness or self-observation.
Some may find it harder to stop repeating bad habits than others for many reasons, mostly to do with the chemical structure and wiring of our brains. When there is a desire to shift away from habits we can sometimes strengthen them as we focus too much on “giving it up” and as we put thought into them, are want and desire increases ten-fold.
There is a cool little side door you can sneak into when trying to push these undesirable behaviours out of your life, and it is accessed through meditation. Meditation has proven to be effective in creating new thought processes which lead to new actions which lead to better lifestyle choices (a.k.a kicking the habit).
For one, it takes up time that you would’ve spent on harmful practices. Your focus is redirected to a more useful and beneficial activity. This may seem like a small thing but this conscious and willing decision is an important step in moving away from a bad habit and forming a new one that serves you.
It places your mind in the right framework while detoxifying you of negative sentiments. Positiveness is encouraged in meditation and repetition helps inculcate this into your attitude. You begin to see life and the world through a new mindset and react to situations differently.
Step 1: Focus on one bad habit you have.
Think of something specific. Seemingly mundane but damaging tendencies like binge eating on chocolate or a coffee addiction is a good starting point.
Step 2: Take note of your feeling before you do that habit, during and after.
Were you sad, frustrated, bored? Emotions affect our decisions more than we’re consciously aware of. For example, there’ve been studies on the correlation of feelings and food cravings. It also applies to other actions like smoking. Also take note of how you felt after every time. A couple of common ones is empty and self-disappointment.
Step 3: Think of what the opposite feelings are.
The opposite of sadness is joy. The contrasting emotion for frustration is victory. That of boredom is excitement or even just interest. Emptiness can be replaced with fulfillment, get my drift?
Step 4: Invite these good feelings clearly in your mind.
Mentally say, “I invite joy into my life. I invite victory into my life. I invite excitement into my life. I invite fulfillment into my life.”
Step 5: Breathe deeply and evenly.
Let yourself be at peace. Clear your mind of other thoughts and bring yourself to a moment of stillness.
Step 6: Begin to hold your breath in between inhaling and exhaling for about 4 seconds. Do it while smiling. Repeat.
Eventually, your focus will be reverted from the patterns to your very being. This would likely go on for several minutes before you’re in that state. Once you’re there, relish it and just let yourself be for several more minutes.
Step 7: Bring your attention back without losing that balance. Rest your hands on your heart.
It’s time to return to the real world but don’t let go of that sense of peace. Take it with you.
This may not immediately work the first time. Do this as often as you can, especially when you feel like returning to those old habits. If you do relapse, no biggy, just let it go and begin meditating again. Peace friends x