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Forming habits vs. Practicing awareness

September 2, 2018
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Who haven’t heard about forming a habit by automatic repetition of a certain action for 21 days?  Especially when it comes to something we are lazy to do even though we know it is healthy for us? Thanks to Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist and his Law of Classical Conditioning, a lot of habits have been formed and the essence is this: make any needed action into a “tooth cleaning” process repeating it for 21 days in a row. I have to admit, some of my habits were also formed through this technique. And I would’ve continued on that path until one day I started noticing that my life started partially resembling scenes from a movie “Click.”

Remember Adam Sandler? With the help of a magic remote control the main hero fast forwards some uncomfortable scenes from his life, and over time he starts missing not only those but also the ones that he’d like not only to remember but to experience as well. That’s how some parts of my life started disappearing as well. Did I wash my hands after the subway? Don’t really remember… Did I feed the cats? They look hungry but they always look like that… The habit of doing Norbekov’s exercises for the spine had been formed but I didn’t remember how I did it on any given day. I knew that I’d done it only because it was crossed off my long to-do list but I didn’t remember how I was keeping my posture and a smile – and these were the main components of the exercises. My conveniently formed habits became memory blackouts.

I realized there was something I was not doing right. I stopped enjoying the walks in the park, my daily yoga, writing my book. When I came to India for the first time, I heard these words “awareness” and “consciousness” from every corner. I was told to “walk consciously,” “talk with consciousness,” “sit with awareness”, and it seemed to me that I understood what it meant although it was quite a foreign word for me – literally and figuratively – until one day I understood that meditation, the famous “here and now” and awareness is practically the same thing.

In Human Design and Gene Keys we talk about awareness and about how important it is to be aware of your own Type, Strategy and your unique way to make decisions in life. If awareness is “switched on”, the rest of the rules cease to exist. Human Design and Gene Keys raise our awareness in the best possible way until it becomes a part of our being.

How can we de-automatize and instead of forming a habit form awareness? This is what I practice myself and share with others in my workshops:

  1. “Stop!” meditation. This practice was brought to us by beloved Osho in order to de-automatize our actions. You can do it in groups and in your own time and space. In the “lab conditions” follow this: get up and start walking in a fast pace looking forward and down. Keep on walking until the facilitator (or yourself) says “Stop!” At that moment you have to freeze in that pose.                                                                        During the first six seconds you are completely aware of this pause, this stop, and the mind freezes for those short seconds as well. Soon enough it starts working again, so we start walking again too. Until we hear/say the next “Stop!” You can repeat this sequence 6-10 times.

 

We also can do this awareness technique at home/work/anywhere: during the day make about 6 stops like that no matter what you are doing at the moment. Maybe you are eating your porridge and all of a sudden freeze with a mouthful for 6 seconds. This stop helps to bring awareness into our actions bringing us back into the “here and now,” bringing sense of purpose and taste to something that we have already forgotten.

 

  1. Simple actions can also help to de-automatize. For example, you can do some things with your left hand you are used to do with your right one – brush your teeth, eat, etc. Or you can walk to work through a new route you’ve never tried before. Or you can brush your hair feeling every stroke and getting response from each of your hairs making sound and breathing. Yes, that was my experience. Also this way you apply the right amount of pressure with your brush and don’t harm the delicate skin on your head. Or you can make a herbal tea from scratch without using tea bags. Each of us has his or her own experience.

 

It can be anything really. Find your memory blackouts, act accordingly and see the results. Then the questions about how fulfilled was your day and either your cat is really hungry will be raised less and less, to say the least.