Mindful Habit Change: Accountability and Reminders

Mindful Habit Change: Accountability and Reminders

Believe it or not, mindfulness meditation is failure practice! We bring our attention to an anchor of breath, the body, sensations or other mental formations. And then we get distracted. Over and over. The secret is returning our focus to the anchor as many times as we are distracted. The same is true in life. As we work to build and break habits, we will inevitably miss a day. How we respond to this situation is what helps us hardwire new habits by getting back on track.

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 second 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.

We began our second session with two simple guided meditations. The first brought us to the present moment by moving our awareness from the process of thought to actual sensation, feeling into our body and experiencing our emotions. The second invited us to to bring to mind a habit, problem or situation that has been a challenge for us.

We imagine ourselves experiencing this challenge through bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts. Then, we ask the following questions:

What am I doing?
Is it right?
What will I do next? 

These questions aren’t meant to be moral judgment but instead to create a mindful pause that invites our natural wisdom, intuition and compassion to our decision-making process. Instead of reacting out of habit, we respond thoughtfully.


Walk Slowly

By Danna Faulds

It only takes a reminder to breathe,

a moment to be still, and just like that,

something in me settles, softens, makes

space for imperfection. The harsh voice

 of judgment drops to a whisper and I

remember again that life isn’t a relay

 race; that we will all cross the finish

line; that waking up to life is what we

were born for. As many times as I

 forget, catch myself charging forward

 without even knowing where I’m going,

that many times I can make the choice

 to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk

 slowly into the mystery.


As humans, we rely on willpower as our primary self-control strategy. But there are days when our willpower and motivation don’t quite match our goals and expectations for ourselves. And that is normal. James Clear offers the following chart to show how our motivation ebbs and flows. Some days it is easy for me to lace up my running shoes and get moving. Other times, this expectation weighs on me throughout the day until I find myself lying in bed and criticizing myself for my laziness.

start small habits to get motivated to work out

Two conclusions can be drawn from this. First, as we seek to develop habits, it is important to start small, to start easy. That way, even a minimal level of motivation may be enough to complete a habit. Think about the concept of “Minimum Effective Dose.” In medicine, this refers to the smallest amount of meditation that will still have a desired effect. Too often, we aim our sights impossibly high. An example in meditation could be to pledge to meditate for three minutes each day. Its easy to argue that one can’t find twenty minutes a day to meditate, but three minutes is available to us when we are waiting for the coffee to brew, the gas tank to fill or the bus to arrive. The second conclusion is that we will need other tools and people to sustain us when our motivation is low. This could include situation selection and modification (packing lunch instead of eating out) or reframing (exploring why we engage in a habit instead of how we should). But even more critically, having reminders and accountability partners makes our efforts more likely to be successful.

4878-Woman_drinking_a_glass_of_water-1200x628-Facebook.jpg (1200×628)One of the best ways to build a habit is to connect it with something we already do. I find that placing items on top of my electric toothbrush (notes, running shoes, medicine, dustrag, etc.) reminds me to do something that I might otherwise have forgotten. Sure, we can use our phone to set reminders but I find that after a while, I just ignore them all. Try out the Movie of Your Day meditation and then check out this resource guide inspired by James Clear to record possibilities for connecting your habit to something you already do.

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.11.03 PMJonathan Foust offers two engaging ways to build a habit. One is the “Seinfeld Method,” simply identify one thing you’d like to do each day and one thing you’d like to restrain yourself from. Using a calendar, simply give yourself a check for each day you succeed in your efforts. You can download his resource here to build your own calendar to monitor your progress and perhaps recruit an accountability partner.

As we closed our time together, participants were encouraged to build an action plan with a partner to build and break a specific habit. Contact information was exchanged and resources including an email support group were shared. In future groups, we’ll explore self-compassion as well as dig deeper into the “Habit Loop,” which can be harnessed to meet our goals.

Visit www.center4selfcare.com 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

 

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Mindful Habit Change: Identifying Habit Patterns

Mindful Habit Change: Identifying Habit Patterns

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.
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.

II.
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.

III.
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.

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

V.
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. 

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http://weknowyourdreams.com/rain/rain-06.html

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 www.center4selfcare.com 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

 

Your Life is a Poem: Beauty

Your Life is a Poem: Beauty
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
from Ode on a Grecian Urn, John Keats

We concluded our month-long look at poetry for our MLUC Meditation Group I with the theme of beauty with an interview of John O’Donohue. You can also read about our sessions on IntimacyVulnerability and Pain & Suffering.

Finding beauty inside and out

In the introduction to his interview, O’Donohue observes, “beauty . . . is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.” When we recognize beauty, it helps us pause. To reflect on gifts we receive as well as wishes and dreams we carry.

Participants shared the beauty they’d experienced in the past week, including listening to music, observing animals, and being connected with others.

Listed below are some of the poems and readings that were shared:

“Whatever happens.
Whatever what is is is what I want.
Only that.
But that.”
Galway Kinnell, A New Selected Poems


Mindfulness & Meditation for Positive Habit Change
Choose one or all: 9/18, 10/9, 11/20, 12/11

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Learn to train your brain to break old habits and adopt new ones!

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

Examples of habits to be addressed include technology use, self-
compassion & self-care, physical fitness, and procrastination.

7 – 8:15pm. No cost to attend.
Tredyffrin Library, 582 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford


Men Meditating in the Mountains – October 12-14

We are proud to offer a weekend retreat. Wholehearted: A Men’s Meditation Retreat takes place in Wilkes-Barre at a beautiful rural property full of opportunity for reflection, connection, hiking, fishing and learning. The fee of $230 includes meals, lodging and a guided meditative experience accessible to beginners and experienced practitioners. Visit our event listing to sign up and learn more.

An offering of: Cntr4SC_Letterhead

Your Life is a Poem: Vulnerability

Your Life is a Poem: Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.”
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

We continued our month-long look at poetry for our MLUC Meditation Group I with the theme of vulnerability. As we went around the room sharing our own experiences of vulnerability, it was ironic to note how that act alone was a way of sharing our vulnerability. In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes,

“If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is the greatest single act of daring greatly.

As a participant asked, “What if we envisioned vulnerability as a lovely soft landing?” We began with a mindfulness practice that cultivates a balance in our body, heart and mind that can open us to vulnerability:

Listed below are some of the poems and readings that were shared:

  • Weathering by Fleur Adcock – “now that I am in love with a place which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy, happy is how I look, and that’s all”
  • At A Safe Distance by John Mark Green – “They say that love is blind, but I just can’t take the chance
  • What We Need by our own Mary Stromquist – “We need to fall in love with the warm pain of closeness
  • Tell Me by Sandra Belfiore – “You will not drown. You were born swimming
  • What If I Knock by Danna Faulds – “What if the door has been open the whole time?
  • Vulnerability by David Whyte – “To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature
  • Unconditional by Jennifer Wellwood – “Willing to experience aloness, I discover connection everywhere

0a56b8fecb83dfaf375fdef4ae677ca9--the-circle-circle-of-lifeWe will continue on Sunday, August 26 at 8:30 a.m. as we work with the poetry of pain and suffering. Click here to join us and bring your favorite poem on the topic. Each week will include a short talk and will invite participants to bring and share their own favorite poems on the week’s topic.

August 12 – Intimacy
August 19 – Vulnerability
August 26 – Pain & Suffering
September 2 – Beauty

If you can’t make it, please visit www.center4selfcare.com/coming-events to see what else we are up to including Meditate4SelfCare online meditation every Sunday at 9pm.