We Are the Catalogue of Habit Patterns
August 13, 2009 § 8 Comments
Recently, I wrote a couple of blogs. I am getting some amazing feedback on those two blogs. However, at the same time, I see people are learning, but simultaneously falling back into the old way of thinking. They might start like this,” You see I have gone through a lot of trouble in my life and that is the reason why I am not able to do what I am supposed to do.”And I wonder, why?
One reason is that we have formed certain habit patterns. My teacher used to say, “We are the catalogue of habit patterns.” As I think more about it, I realize certain patterns of thinking go on throughout the day and maybe a lifetime could pass without us realizing what we have been doing with our entire lives! My teacher was narrating this idea in a different way. Many times he was just being funny. He always said that we wake up from our bedroom, we go to the bathroom to clean and evacuate, and then we go to the kitchen to eat. To protect our little sanctuary of these three rooms we go to work, and we work hard. He would ask, “What is it that you are accomplishing? Any Tom, Dick and Harry can do that. How are you different? What are you doing with your precious life?” He was being funny, but there was a clear and very deep message at the same time. You had to think.
I just happened to see prime time news cast, and there was a story of gentleman from New York feeding a lot of people with only his bus driver’s salary! He barely spoke the English that we speak, but his action spoke louder than his mundane communication skills. I was flabbergasted! “How can he possibly do that?” I thought. He was cooking a lot of meals at home. He barely had enough working appliances, not to mention pots and pans. To make matters worse, he had lost his job due to the down turn in the economy for a couple of months. He bounced back as soon as he got the bus driving job, which I thought was a very low paying job to begin with. Despite that he went on cooking for more people than before! It is a great story! Why am I sharing it with you?
Well, flat out, I would say your life is far better and superior to this man’s life and you are blessed to have it. Start counting your blessings, stop complaining about things you do not have, things that you want, but may not be necessary for your growth for now. Simply put, you do not need them. Learn to help others as this man was able to on a bare minimum salary. Why? Well, that is the real source of happiness: helping others. He was absolutely happy cooking for the hungry and was laboring hard just to help others. That is the key. Help others as you move along with your own life. Decide and determine to do that everyday. Once you decide, believe me, you will see plenty of opportunities every where, every day, to help others. It can be as simple as giving up your seat to an elderly or a pregnant woman in a crowded subway car.
You might say, well, my life is worse than this man. I would say, learn from his example. Stand up on your own feet and get going. Read his story again. Inspire yourself and work hard until you accomplish your goals. However, ruminating on whatever is happening in your life and doing nothing about it—that is not the solution to your problems. You must take action and change your habits. Learn new skills and create new habit patterns that are growth-oriented, powerful moral boosters and fuel for immense productivity.
To come back to my point of habit patterns, you may see if you take time to observe that you are stuck in certain thought patterns. Granted, many things could have gone wrong in your life and that may force you to go back to visit those moments in time and ruminate on what happened to you and why. However, is that all that is left in your life? If you had contemplated with proper awareness, you would have moved on just because you realized that things do happen and one must learn and then move on. Life happens.
Many people move on despite their current circumstances, no matter how limiting they are and achieve something far better in their lives—and help others do the same. Many of us are completely stuck in that habit pattern and keep on chewing the same weed repeatedly even when there is nothing to chew on! What does that mean? Let us say, ten years ago there was a significant period of time in your life where things went the wrong way, whether you took action or not. That probably taught you a lesson: “What’s the point of my life? No matter what I do, things are not happening for me.” Eventually, you create a habit of giving up. Does this sound familiar to anyone? If that was ten years ago, why are you still repeating, chewing the same weeds? It does not make any sense to do that. Does it really make any sense to you? Then it begs the question, “Why do we do that?” Simple answer: habit patterns. How does a habit pattern form? By repeating same action over time in thought, action, and speech you create a habit pattern. What is so bad about it?
Well, it depends on what is it that you want to achieve in your lifetime; what is it that you want to become? How is it that you want to accomplish? If something has happened ten years ago, and you haven’t worked that out and moved on, then you are seriously stuck in past. Every time you chew that moment consciously or unconsciously, it reinforces itself with a lot more gusto than before. Repeat thousands of time and you have no control over it. You are bound to chew them on every possible occasion, every moment something similar arises in your life or across the world; it does not matter. You will retreat to chew on those weeds. Well, how do you cure such a powerful habit pattern?
Answer is: read my two previous blogs. First start with, “To Experience or Not To” and then follow with “Using the ‘Not Now’ Mantra” and see if that helps you. Read carefully, try and assimilate the information into your own words, study it, and then put it in practice. Remember, practice makes you perfect. Reading is just a first step. You must go beyond the first step to resolve this issue plaguing your mind and torturing you for years. If you do not improve now, it will plague you for the rest of your life, and that I would say, is humongous waste of Human Potential, which is, nevertheless, the Divine Potential. If you are made in the image of God, then you are not less than!
You may have to keep on repeating those exercises depicted in my blogs until you can automatically do them without any doubts and fears. Be sincere and practice. If you are not comfortable in exercising this method at this time in your life, then do it when you are really strong enough to take back your life from your past. Learn to be your own boss. Take help if it is necessary, but this method is the shortest answer to your prayers of many years. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, practicing it, and bringing a path of freedom closer than you had ever envisioned. God bless you and be happy!
Great blog! Thank you so much for writing it-I’m getting a lot out of the exercises even though I forget to practice it most of the time and realize it later 🙂 But it’s part of my awareness and I’m learning to become more conscious. It’s so true about habit patterns and how we get stuck in them. I definitely see myself in what you’re describing. I realize that I’m stuck and most everything in my life is just reinforcing that (because the circumstances of my life are a manifestation/expression of my thoughts). (I’ve been reading Yoga Psychology and I just made this connection which makes me happy). On that note-goodnight everybody.
One more student whose initials are RM says:
You have a message that should be read; and then read again. The answers to much of life can be found here.
Incisive? Yes. Decisive? Yes. Simple? Yes.
The question is clear: do you want to hold on to your old habit patterns? Or do you want to let go of them and truly change?
The way is simple; but not necessarily easy. But by taking small steps, the path has begun for the beginning of change.
You have zeroed in on one essential truth: we have been given the gift of a life to live. And the only true success in life is to live it the way YOU want to.
Nishit, you are taking us on a journey. A journey that may never end; but a journey that will always move forward as long as we listen…
Another friend e-mailed me her comments:
Nishit, those are great blogs. The part about our experiences being just that, experiences, as opposed to labeling them as good/bad things that are happening in our lives, have really stuck to me the past couple days after reading it in your blog. My mind has been absorbing it and living it.
I was having a conversation with someone the other day about a similar concept. A friend had asked me, “what’s wrong?” I replied, there’s nothing “wrong” with me. Not everything has to be either right or wrong, it just IS. Thank you for sharing. As I read your blogs, I imagine your face and your energy and it’s uplifting!!
I found it appropriate to read this blog to better understand how one can move forward, after now having a chance in this order to learn from the knowledge from the two earlier blogs.
I’ve found my own catalog of experiences have ended up “labeled” by limited definitions. It seems that we end up with them and don’t want to let them go because it is comfortable and safe to keep them. To move beyond that requires one to let go and not repeat or reinforce that old perspective, but to do so it also means we need to move outside of that comfort zone.
It has helped to “Not Now, not label” experiences. It is often too easy to experience and assume “OHH this isn’t going to be good”, for those limited definitions didn’t require one to go beyond that and develop more broadly.
Those narrow definitions of ourselves also seem to limit the ability to see that larger connection beyond ourselves. Easy enough to experience the opportunity of giving up a seat on the subway and label it as an “obligation” or “task”. But the simple act of giving up “MY” seat on the subway and connecting with the simple smiles exchanged, is the same connection as the hundred smiles exchanged from a soup kitchen line.
Alex e-mailed me an interesting article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18angier.html?emc=eta1) from New York Times and said: “Nishit – I found this really interesting – especially as it relates to your blog about habit patterns, and I’ve been thinking hard about my own habit patterns and tendency to stay in a rut and trying to figure out why.
It talks about stress and how it can create a vicious circle encouraging the brain to make us engage in repetitive behavior and habits, and discourages problem solving and goal setting.”
I have read this article, since I get NY Times on line. It is very interesting. A lot of studies are done about these matters in scientific circles but few get exposure for the common public. By the way, from the yogic perspective, brain is just a tool, a seat of mind. Our mind is unable to express itself. It needs a tool so it can properly express itself. That is why you do not see a word “brain” in my blog. I use the word “mind” often than not.
Furthermore, according to yogis, whole of your body is in your mind, whole of your mind is not in your body. Just think about it. As a matter of fact, if people study my blog sincerely, I certainly can tell, they will benefit from it. They will learn to relive stress since clarity becomes the part of their daily life. When you are not aware, not clear, things and circumstances can strike you out of no where! When you are aware, things may happen the exact same way, but now they may not have as much power, as much punch, to harm you since you are aware. It has a different taste, if I may say so. It is as simple as that! I hope you study and practice that.
RM said: Just wanted to say that your blogs are consistently helpful and well thought out.
Whoever chooses to read them — and whoever choses to follow them — will greatly benefit!
Thanks again for what you are doing.
One of my students whose initials are RL says the following:
I believe the reasons we stick to old habits and patterns are fear and guilt.
It is amazing to see how fear governed and ruled our lives both consciously and subconsciously. The fear of the unknown is sometime so paralyzing that we will go back to the old grooves or patterns because it is easier. To make new grooves, to venture to the unknown, it take courage and strange. To stay in the old grooves, even though it causes us pain, it is pain that we are familiar with.
The other reason we like to keep old patterns is guilt.
We carry a lot of guilt. Things that happened long time ago, we like to revisit them every now and then to remind ourselves how we have suffered. We know in our hearts that we are better then our old experiences, but our brain will bring us back, to remind us not to forget.