Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
I recently returned from a week long meditation retreat with Jon Bernie, described as a nondual spiritual teacher who is also a delightfully authentic human being. My experience, nested on my ongoing learning processes through the Feldenkrais method with the Feldenkrais Training Academy, turns my reflection to the question of how can we find freedom through our sense of wholeness?
As a coach, one of the ways I work with clients is to support them to see, feel and know more clearly how their habitual way of operating might be locked into a pattern of behavior that takes them away from what they want. Bringing this habitual (unconscious) pattern into clearer view is like a key to freedom from living with the constraint of this pattern. Our habitual patterns can be supportive – we need our habits to be able to operate through routine tasks. Imagine if you had to brush your teeth each day as if it were the first time?
Our habits can also be self-made prisons. The key to unlocking our prison door is through awareness – catching ourselves in the act of the habit so we can stop and choose something else. Philip Shepherd in his book Radical Wholeness says it this way, “You find yourself stuck in a pattern that thwarts, stunts and denies the energies of your life…one of the foremost challenges of moving towards wholeness is learning what freedom means to us, learning to notice what diminishes it, and learning the freedom of expressing our true selves through how we live.”
Habits give us a sense of security. Our habits are like a little software program that we can run that takes care of this moment – we enter into a pre-programmed way of operating and we feel secure – this moment is predictable. Taken care of.
How do we find security in freedom? What happens when you bring your whole self to a task like brushing your teeth? Is it possible to brush them in a habitual way when you bring a whole awareness to each moment? Where do you find more possibility, more creative ways to clean your teeth – through a habitual procedure or through a whole engagement of yourself?
So why does this matter anyway? You might be feeling – I’ve got way more important things to do than to fuss with how much attention I bring or don’t bring to something like brushing my teeth.
Except for this. How many of your habits are a kind of a contraction, a kind of compromise that you are not aware you have made – swapping efficiency or familiarity – doing something the way it feels right that leaves you without access to the freedom to choose something else?
Sleepwalking with our habits, we get increasing locked into a constrained life, repeating a process that works for a secure outcome. Sounds good – predictable. Except life has a way of disrupting our patterns. Philip Shepherd insightfully comments, “The most difficult thing in the world is to question an assumption you’ve never consciously made…how do you even begin to question something that is so normal it is invisible?”
Cultivating your awareness can open up your adaptability – this is a kind of power that can bring security in freedom. It’s just part of being whole and acting from there.