Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Unravel Habitual Patterns?

As you explore your emotions, you may gradually discover that they’re not as overpowering or as endless as you feared. With mindful awareness and naming, most emotions will flow through your body and gradually release. For example, as you gently investigate your anger or fear, it may intensify at first, then break and disperse like a wave on the beach.
But certain persistent emotions and physical contractions, along with the thoughts and images that accompany and fuel them, seem to keep returning, no matter how many times you notice and name them. These are the stories and habitual patterns that run deep in the body-mind like the roots from which recurring thoughts and feelings spring. In your meditations, you may keep replaying a story from your past (including all the accompanying emotions and mind-states) in which you suffer some abuse or injustice. Perhaps you see yourself as a failure and fantasize obsessively about an imaginary future in which you’re somehow happier and more successful. Or you may worry repeatedly about your job or relationship because you believe you can’t trust people or the world’s not a safe place.
In his book A Path with Heart, Buddhist meditation teacher Jack Kornfield calls these habitual patterns insistent visitors and suggests that they keep returning in your meditation (and your life!) because they’re stuck or unfinished in some way. When you give them the loving attention and deeper investigation they require, you may at first discover that they’re more complex and deeply rooted than you had imagined. But with persistent exploration, they gradually unravel and reveal the hidden energy and wisdom they contain. In fact, the more you undo your patterns, the more you release the physical and energetic contractions that lie at their heart, and the freer, more spacious, more expansive — and, yes, healthier! — you become. Here’s a brief synopsis of the primary techniques for unraveling habitual patterns. Experiment with them on your own, and if you find them helpful, feel free to incorporate them into your meditation. If you get stuck or would like to delve deeper but don’t know how, you may want to find yourself a meditation teacher or psychotherapist familiar with this approach.

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