Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Habits and Rituals

It's much easier to do things then to not do them. Ask anyone who has tried to give up smoking, and you'll find that unless there is an effective replacement stress displacement activity, willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the constant craving. Clearly, to stop doing something requires much more strength and energy then to start.

Which is why a Vipassana retreat works so well for so many. Removing the old habit structures of the mind and body returns us to the all important present, where infinite possibility can arise and pass away. When we finish, the opportunities to return to our old habits are reinforced by not only our mind, but our environment, our relationships and our workspace. Now is a critical time to continue the work because there remains mental space to make changes.

Habits and Rituals are the same mechanism, a part of life which we engage in without thinking consciously. Habits, I would define as negative patterns, detracting from your core value and purpose, while rituals are positive, inline with your values and supporting your deepest goals. Regardless of the work I have to do, I check my email after starting the computer, a habit of mine which leads to countless distractions, lost time and energy. Sitting for an hour in the morning (haven't gotten to the evening yet) is a ritual I've been successful at implementing for the past two days. It adds to my energy, focus and concentration. I had a very trying Monday, and if sitting gave me the space to stop a single freak-out spiral before it happened, it is worth it.

One of my biggest hurdles while meditating is thinking of the other things I could be doing. When you consider the benefits that practicing Vipassana can bring to my interactions with work, friends, family and contribute to overall happiness, is there anything more valuable I could be doing with my time?

May All Be Happy

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