My friend and consciousness coach, Janet Barrett, recently wrote an essay about "habituated thought," and how we so naturally and easily lay down in a thought groove and then solidify that with justifications and conclusions and use those to not be afraid, insecure or powerless.
Habituated thought is how we cope with the infinite-ness of ourselves. We narrow down the bandwidth using judgments of right or wrong; we then justify those judgments by tying our experiences to them. We then leave it there--a nice comfortable little rut of unconsciousness.
We then continue packing these ruts around every facet of our lives until we can barely make out how we actually fit into all this. We lose ourselves in our own choices, judgments and conclusions.
It's not really our fault. We're trained in this way of thinking from the moment we learn the language, and from the role models of our parents who pass down various modules of habituated thought from their ancestors--and so it goes.
Humans are really good at spotting patterns, assigning meaning to them, and then encapsulating those meanings into definitions and ramifications. The problem with this innate genius is that we so rarely turn it in upon our own thinking. We get fleeting glimpses of patterns of behavior in ourselves and others, but once spotted, we rarely follow up because the illusion is that it really doesn't matter that much.
News flash: It does matter. Mindfulness of oneself does matter. By simply being aware of how we are thinking and feeling, and being able to catch ourselves at those moments where past conclusions and judgments take over, we can, by using this as a tool, completely transform our lives beyond what we now think is possible.
Here are some easy-peasy, split second practices from Access Consciousness you can use that short-circuit habituated thinking and feeling patterns. By applying these tools, you free up creative energies and unburden yourself from heavy conclusions and judgments that just don't serve you.
Recently, I had an occasion to experience some pretty significantly deep self-doubt. It came in the form of a habituated thought pattern that was something like "Nothing is going to change / I don't see it changing / Maybe it will never change", and then the accompanying feeling was a knot in my solar plexus and a deep flash of discouragement and fear.
As soon as I became aware of the thinking pattern, I chanted to myself several dozen times (sometimes out loud). "Interesting point of view I have that point of view." I did this with the feelings, too.
I also asked, "Is this mine? Whose is this? Return to sender!"
Then, I topped off this series with the statement, "All of life comes to me with ease, joy and glory."
At first, it took about an hour of doing this to finally notice that the thoughts were beginning to lose their impact, and those feelings of discouragement and fear were fading. I continued with the series every time I spotted the thinking pattern start up again, or the feelings begin again.
After about three days of this, I woke up one morning and felt much lighter and actually hopeful, and usually the waking up hour or two are the most filled with this hopeless thinking and feeling. Yay!
As the day progressed, I continued with these processes, and then added the question, "How does it get any better than this?" and "What else is possible?", along with creating feelings of gratitude. By the end of the day, my strength returned, the knot in the stomach was gone and I found myself saying, "I've got this. No problem."
Using these mindfulness tools is a matter of making them a priority in your life. Since you create your life with your awareness, choices, thoughts and feelings, it makes sense that making sure those activities are in good working order is a top priority.
We want to be able to spend our lives as the highest and the best creators we can be, and that takes the mindfulness necessary to keep the crud and crap cleaned off those creative jets. Who knows what amazing creations we are capable of?