Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Considering Old Habits With New Eyes

It always amazes me how quickly we develop habitual routines. In some ways, it makes sense. Day to day life is filled with a plethora of executive decisions: what to eat; what to wear; what to read, listen to, or watch; how to spend our time, money and energy, prioritizing tasks at work or at home. Routines can free us up to focus on bigger or deeper questions. And, once we’ve found something that works for us- whether it's a daily meditation or nap (and I admit one sometimes leads to the other)- a routine helps us establish and maintain these practices.

Of course, the strength of routines is also a weakness: habits aren’t decided from present-moment awareness. This of course, side-steps the but-I-don’t-feel-like. . . . (exercising, writing, meditating, eating vegetables etc.) pitfall of resisting what we know generally supports our body, mind, and spirit. But it also side-steps considerations of how things may have changed and what our or others' present-moment needs really are. And, of course, the ease of perpetuating habits is as true of those that are not good for us as it is for those that are beneficial.

Which is why I'd decided not to write the usual blog (or post regularly on Facebook) this week. I’m taking a bit of a break. Breaks in our routine offer an opportunity to re-establish our commitment to practices that work for us or create and commit to new routines that better serve our values and current needs. They also help us recognize how some habits are just not serving our deepest soul desires.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do think of this time between the Winter Solstice and the New Year as a good time to consider what new or modified practices I want to set up for myself given my personal priorities, the needs of those around me, and my desire to contribute- to be of use- to my community and the world. Oh, I’m not really anticipating Big Changes, but I am planning on finishing my two partially-written books (one fiction, one non-fiction) in 2013.

Sometimes taking a break from our usual routine is a great way to bring fresh eyes to whether or not how we are living- individually and collectively- reflects and cultivates what is most important to us. So let's use this time before-the-beginning to contemplate whether or not our daily routines and practices are really serving our priorities and purpose, to shake things up a little, to break with habitual ways of seeing and being so we can move mindfully into the new year.

(And yes, I am aware that I just wrote and posted a blog about why I am not blogging or posting on-line this week. I did so by just following the impulse of the moment- so I guess weekly blogging and posting on Facebook are going to be part of 2013 :-) )

Oriah (c) 2012


  1. The irony of posting a blog about not posting is just the thing I needed to lift my spirits, dear one. Today, I returned to the computer after not being online for several weeks. I did not plan to be absent for so long. It was sort of a daily decision not to go online so I didn't give any warning to friends that I would not be around and needlessly worried them... but I really needed the "break" in my routine to eliminate other long standing habits that were weighing me down... at 63 years of age, I am no stranger to the winter blues that have been a reoccurring event in my life. This year I decided to not fight or resist my state of dormancy or hibernation and instead just allow it to be. Once I stopped trying to fake being awake, I settled into my cocoon or cave for a long winter's nap if that is what I needed. The good part of the story is that because my feelings, needs, wants, and desires were few and numbed... certain other habits fell away too. My morning cup of coffee no longer tasted good. I had restarted smoking over a year and a half ago and really wanted to quit, but I could not seem to let go of smoking. This time I didn't even have to try, the desire to smoke just fell away. I woke up on the 19th of December and my habit of a cup of coffee and a cigarette were gone and have not returned. Thank you for being. Sincerely, Pattra

    1. Pattra, what lovely and encouraging story of how surrender can lead to change- how sometimes trying harder is the very thing that sets up resistance and going deeper can cultivate a real shift. Thank you!

  2. Oriah,

    I look forward to your two new books in 2013.

    "Happy New Year"

  3. I'm very glad you will continue blogging because I look forward to Wednesday and your post.

  4. Thanks super-muchly Oriah! Just what I needed! You rock! :-) xox

  5. nice thoughtful entry, Thanks Oriah.

    Myself, I find time in true wilderness allows me to refocus and stop my fretting and sometimes bad habits. In French there is a thing called "activisme" which means running around doing stuff for it's own sake. It's easy to get caught up with this in urban life with all it's consumer glam, coffee shops and activities we can do. I see 16 yr olds doing it...

    Reckon wilderness retreats and solitude should be part of school curriculum. "what I cant go on facebook for 3 days ??!" they help one re-acess life and re-connect with one's true self.

    just spent 3 days, including the new year with no net connection, Kayaking solo around an island here in tropical north Australia (magnetic island QLD). Camped on beaches that I had completely to myself, feeling like Robinson Crusoe, watched as a river started flowing with storm water, sea eagles perched. These are moments where my heart sings and I am a strong warrior sage in the simple, unforgiving wilderness. Later I stopped for lunch on busy beaches, and a few people came up to talk to this lone adventurer, which was gratifying. And maybe I inspire them into living their own adventures.

    Took a major effort to rip myself away from air-con, shopping, my procrastination and repetitive thinking, and pack the myriad of gear in drybags . (I dislike packing ). But it was the best idea: I came back calmer, clearer headed and re-centered, with some bad habits having less of a hold on me.

    for those who are interested, I have a blog where I sometimes post photos and text re my adventures: