Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shedding Old Habits

"At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less klesha driven and confused. At that point you’ll actually want to be present—present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you’ll find that you notice sooner when you’re hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens—a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by worldly concerns."
(From Pema's latest book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)

And it's a process.  Sometimes you see with clarity, and then the fog returns and with it comes the old habits.  You relive the experience and wake up to regret.  How many times must I do this before the shedding of old habits firmly takes root? I am learning to be loving to myself when I fall off the path, but still I am disappointed that it came to that.  After all, I am in charge of my choices.  There isn't anyone else, even though I love to point fingers and make excuses.  It's all down to me and how I work with external situations that trigger old habits.  Sometimes I think I am chasing the illusion of balance and healthy choices -- do they really exist?  But of course I know they do, as I have had the experience of living them.  My infantile self wants to 'be here now' and stay here as effortlessly as floating in the womb.  But there is always work to do to maintain the equilibrium. 

So, back to the work.  (You know, chop wood, carry water.) 

Have you struggled in this way?  Probably so.  So how do you do it?


  1. I rant, rave, and rest. Then I get back up and try again. My old habits keep me from engaging with the world, so mostly I don't have bad experiences except for loneliness. I go outside and walk. The beauty of the planet sustains me.

    1. I mourn and despair, then I get back up and try again. I agree that the beauty of the planet sustains one, if you are attuned to it. Also, good friendships like ours keep me going.

  2. This is an ongoing question we have at work when we sit at the long table and paint. It came up again today, in a roundabout manner, and I kept repeating that it's hard to do, and I forget, and then try again. It's all a process, and it's also about self-forgiveness.

    Pema Chodron's name came up too, as did thich nhat hanh. It's nice to consider the synchronicity here, also. There's a comfort in our connectedness!

    1. It IS hard to do...but I think we keep at it because we know there is a better way than what we have been doing. Especially as I get older, I have this sense that is doesn't have to be so hard. And that drives me forward.