What are your habits? Do you perhaps buy a Cinnamon Dolce Frappacino every morning between 8:23 and 8:25 and let it cool for the 5 more minutes it takes you to get to your office? Because you know that, after you turn on the light and place your coat on the back of the door (on the right hook, not the left), it will be the perfect temperature to enjoy while you’re reading your email?
Research has found that 45 percent of our behavior is habitual. That’s right, 45 percent. My goodness, that’s a lot of autopilot. But it’s a good thing because we can let her/him drive while we use our precious brain cells for attending to important tasks which actually require thought processes.
The problem of course is that not all habits are good. Some of them come on unconsciously and can get us in hot water quickly. Swami Vivekananda said something like “You can’t surmount a bad habit until you replace it with a good one.” So our tendency towards habit means we have lots of opportunities to create good ones – it’s these habits that can then take the place of the coffee and cigarettes. And as opposed to giving us anxiety and cancer, they will make our life fuller and our spirit expand.
And the good habits (which of course should include meditating and doing yoga every day ;->) can give us the space for cultivating even more positive habits that nurture our souls.
Flannery O’Connor, one of the 20th century’s greatest American writers, wrote a bunch of letters throughout her life to her friend Betty. After her death, these letters were compiled in a book called, The Habit of Being. In it O’Connor reveals that, despite suffering from a protracted illness which would eventually kill her, her deep commitment to her work led her to an unflinching “habit of art.” She would work for a specific number of hours every day, unfailingly, in devotion to her art. And her habit gave her contentment – contentment which comes from cultivating the habit of being.
After you get the drinking 8 glasses of water a day kind of habits in place, what other habits can you start to create for yourself that affirm your being? Do you enjoy throwing clay on a potter’s wheel and spinning it into smooth, weighty coffee cups? Are you fascinated by reading about wild medicinal herbs? Do you love letting the music of John Coltrane wash over you as you lie on the couch under your favorite afghan? What habit would give you pleasure, stimulate your mind and senses and give your life sweetness? How could you find space in your life to make your habit of being a steady inhabitant of your time.
Yoga is a habit that can bring all our other positive habits to life and through yoga we can more easily experience seated meditation. Stillness is a habit that is a natural tendency – it’s something that every human being desires and is equipped for. It is in stillness that we find answers, meaning, order and peace.


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