58. The non-sexy practice of noticing
How often do you observe the habits of your own mind? It is not something many of us even begin to consider. I mean it is not the most charismatic or energetic, life affirming or even practical thing we can do, right? Well.... My invitation to you today is to bring it to the top of your to-do list. Set the intention to find 10 minutes to honour a meditation practice, then use the time to observe the habits of your mind. I inadvertently did this on Monday, not intentionally but I had one of those fractious moments where life doesn't quite go the way you plan and I could sense a level of emotional overwhelm, a dear one was asking after my welfare and what was up and I realised I couldn't articulate it. I needed to sit somewhere quiet and turn inward and observe for me to understand what was going on underneath the reflex reaction that was waiting in the wings to pounce. I needed to observe the well-worn habitual neural pathways, the habits of my mind that I suspect I've taken for well too many years, that usually lead me off on a negative train of thought, and I chose instead to observe rather than get into the story and allow it to potentially lead me off into an all too often pickle. Sitting with this type of discomfort is not easy, but it is fruitful. When we offer ourselves the gift of quiet reflection, we can learn such a lot about the quality of our thoughts, the habits of our minds. We can ask ourselves a few simple questions in those moments too
Is this thought true, how do I know this?
Is this thought habit serving me well, if not, what else might I replace it with?
Some examples if you are struggling to identify with why observing the habits of the mind might be for you.
How often do you tell yourself the story - I can't do this, I'm not sure I deserve this, what if I fail?
Or how about the habit of not asking for or articulating outwardly your needs? Feeling frustrated or saddened when they are not met, or feeling disappointed by others when you've subconsciously needed something but haven't expressed it overtly?
Communication with ourselves is paramount, it requires a level of honest conversation with us about our wants and needs. How often our wants and needs fly under the radar of our awareness and the habits of our mind go directly to the end result, not having passed go, not having collected £200 instead straight to difficulty, challenge, emotional overwhelm or sadness.
So today, I invite you, if you find yourself having a challenge (don't pick a whopper, start with something small!) and go gently with your practice, but find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed and recollect the difficulty or even if you are feeling antsy or left of centre and you don't know why, and simply settle in, notice any felt sensations in your body, no need to get into conversation but simply notice the habits of your mind and get to know the habitual thoughts that are present.