Habits and Mindfulness

We all have behaviors we seek to change that affect our daily lives – mind, body and soul. Often the best way to combat the uncomfortable situation to which we feel captive is to face it head on with our true feelings. Mindfulness practice asks us to acknowledge and accept an undesirable behavior, a habit – this can be the very thing to free you from it.

pauseMindfulness practice has been shown to activate the centers of the brain which deal with impulse and addiction.  This activation can allow you a pause to examine the trigger of the habit.  Does seeing someone reach for a donut trigger cravings in you?  When you talk on the phone do you crave a smoke?  Does a shopping spree follow an argument? Mere awareness of our triggers can offer a way out of habit, and offer you choices before proceeding through the habit you wish to change.

This “pause to reflect” is the perfect time to become aware of the choices available in that moment, and to practice new, healthier behaviors. When you notice that craving for a donut, pause and breathe, and think of alternative choices. As mentioned in a previous post, perhaps the craving is not truly for a donut but for an energy boost. In that pause, you can breathe deeply, stretch, take a brief walk, or some other healthier method of gaining energy.

It is also useful to pay attention to your self-talk when you find yourself “stuck” in a habit. Do you unconsciously tell yourself that you “deserve a treat” when you feel low? Perhaps you then feel guilt for having indulged: “Why do I always do that??”

Say yes to your present moment and allow yourself to be free in it. Be free of your past. Be free of your future. Just dwell in the moment and be. And practice the same kindness, grace, and forgiveness with yourself as you would a friend.

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