The way out is through. Many of our bad habits have evolved from protective responses to situations over which we had no control into unhelpful or unhealthy behaviors that no longer serve us. So it is quite normal to have this challenge. And the great news is that we can always change. The burgeoning science of neuroplasticity tells us that an “old dog” can learn new tricks. We just have to practice. That is where mindfulness comes in!

This fall, Center For Self-Care and Your Mindful Coach are offering The Well-Worn Path: Meditation and Mindfulness for Positive Habit Change, at the Tredyffrin Library on select Tuesdays. Through deep exploration and intentional practice, we can let go of habits we know longer need and cultivate new, supportive habits. You can enjoy a full recording of the workshop below as well as the guided meditations on iTunes and Soundcloud. Finally, here is a short video outlining the well-worn path we all travel.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I still don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place. It isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there, I still fall in.
It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down a different street.

© 1977 Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

We began our first session with a guided meditation to support transition and remind ourselves that though our bodies are engineered for habit and distraction, we can always return to our intention. 


When we bring a curiosity to what is happening before, during and after we engage in a habit, we can build a knowledge base that helps us respond and adjust as needed. One way to do this is through the meditative practice called RAIN. Instead of trying to eliminate a thought, feeling or sensation from our mind, we are called to recognize it, acknowledge it, investigate it, and then non-identify (that is recognizing that we are just the observer of this habit or stressor, we are not the habit itself).

As we closed our time together, participants were encouraged to study their habits, especially the bad ones over the next several weeks. Take your time. You may have heard that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but the creator of this system suggested it takes at least 21 days. So you have some time. Ask yourself,

  • What triggers or cues your good and bad habits?
  • What prevents you from building consistency in a good habit?
  • What do you say to yourself when things don’t turn out right?
  • What habits do you want to break or make?

Visit to see what events we have coming up.

September 18: Identifying Habit Patterns
October 9: Accountability and Reminders
November 20: Patience and Self-Compassion
December 11: Sustainable Change


6 thoughts on “Mindful Habit Change: Identifying Habit Patterns

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