With a new year brings new beginnings. I was able to take some inner time this holiday season to incubate gratitude for the abundance of the last year and also reflect on creating new patterns that better serve me. In many of the world’s wisdom traditions, the first step in changing old patterns that no longer serve, is noticing them and creating new ones. That means not letting them just go by on automatic, but becoming mindful of them. We can do this in two ways: getting familiar with the triggers that start the sequence, and noticing the way the habit operates.
Tara Brach has a beautiful way of recognizing old habits and charting new territory with her practice of RAIN:
RAIN stands for:
Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying
with the experience.
This can remind us of cultivating a particular way of paying attention: mindfulness. It lets us notice parts of our mental patterning that typically go by invisibly – especially our habits.
Once we bring these into awareness we can decide how to change them as they are occurring, or are about to.
And finally, we can replace the dysfunctional habits with something that works better for us.
So first, recognize the Trigger Source:
Recognizing how these states, or modes of being, take us over can help us track our habits better.
- Bring mindfulness to the mode and habit.
- Replace the old habit with a new response.
- Practice at every natural opportunity.