Patterns, patterns everywhere! Not a moment’s peace.
How we act and think creates new habits and conditions
for how we will act and think in the future.
If You Continue To Do
What You’ve Always Done,
You’ll Continue To Get
What You’ve Always Gotten!
Which people, places, and things influence your weight gain and loss or your other addictive choices? To find out, become your own gentle observer. You develop attention or a witness self that sees what you do or don’t do. You begin to notice how different environments influence you. You can then plan alternative choices. Through practicing this process you become your own lifestyle coach!
Explore Your Circles of Relationships: How Do They Affect You?
Use the “scalpel of attention” to reveal how patterns pervade your life. Notice:
- Where you live: your dwelling, neighborhood, and community
- Your immediate support system: family, your parents, siblings and relatives
- How you earn a livelihood: what activities you engage in, the people with whom you interact, and how you handle money
- Other social relationships: friends and acquaintances, spiritual support or volunteer activities
- Social and cultural: your status, and values that you hold
Our Patterns—Very Sneaky and Tenacious!
Patterns are just like a holly tree. They can impede our seeing what is really going on and they are resistant to change. The holly tree story:
There is a holly tree growing in a parking strip a couple of blocks from my house. It is near a busy intersection. When it grows to a height of about 4 feet, it blocks the view of oncoming traffic. So, when I try to see if it is safe to enter the busy street, I can’t see any cars until I’m out into the intersection. This has almost caused an accident several times. I got permission from the owner to cut down the tree, but I did not dig it up. I just cut off all branches down to the ground. Every few years the tree slowly grows up again and gradually blocks the view of oncoming cars. Today I just cut it down again. I used big lopping shears to cut the branches off. The 1”-thick branches were tenacious, the wood was very hard to cut.
I’ve gone through this process four times before, so I know that the holly tree (patterns!) will just come back again, because I didn’t cut to the root and dig it up. I also know that gradually it will cut off my view of oncoming traffic and will again be dangerous.
This is just what happens with our patterns. Unless we take the time to:
- Observe (develop attention)
- Evaluate (see how we fall into the repetitive choices and what we USE them for)
- Plan new transformative choices, and persistently practice them (figure out new coping mechanisms)
We will just fall into the same old ways of responding when our lives are stressful.
To be successful at healthful weight management requires ongoing attention and cultivation of healthy choices. Another KEY is the awareness of when OLD WAYS of responding are coming back, and the willingness to do some pruning! Using the tool of the lifestyle journal can be like using a mirror, so you can SEE what is happening to you.
Are you sick and tired or being sick and tired?
Consider an intention for yourself, as you SEE yourself and your patterns: May I see what I do. When it happens, may I do something different. May I make that a way of life for myself.
Out of stillness comes awareness, and with awareness and right planning
comes a life that is well lived!
- Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing your patterns. See what you do with honesty, but with gentleness—without judging yourself or beating yourself up. Just notice.
- Even if you see what you usually do, can you do something different next time? Use the Daily Personal Check-In. Learn about yourself. Contemplate options. Prepare for and practice responding in new ways.
- Continue in your new way of responding. Practice cutting the habitual pattern—trying something different to cope every time the pattern comes up. Make this new way of responding a way of life.
Use this process as an opportunity to get to know yourself better. Pema Chödrön shares insights about this process in her book Start Where You Are, ©1994 by Shambhala Publications.
What are your patterns? How do they effect each area of your life? How can you dismantle patterns that don’t serve your well-being and transform them into patterns that support your healthfulness?
Talks by Rodney Smith shed amazing clarity on our unconscious reactive mental patterns and provide ideas and homework about how to change them. SIMS: Seattle Insight Meditation Society (Rodney Smith):
http://seattleinsight.org/ Talks by Rodney Smith: http://seattleinsight.org/RodneySmith/tabid/108/TeacherID/1/Default.aspx These talks are like “spiritual cognitive therapy.”
ASK YOURSELF, what are your habitual mental reactions to life that you fall into? How do you drive yourself crazy or make yourself and others miserable? How can you learn to do something different? Check out below! You’ll find many new talks on Rodney’s site.
These next excellent talks (distortions of mind 1-3) have moved to these 2 pages on Rodney’s site: http://seattleinsight.org/Talks/BrowseSeries/tabid/136/Default.aspx AND http://seattleinsight.org/Talks/BrowseSeries/Series/tabid/98/SeriesID/34/Default.aspx
A Daily Reminder
Change your moment-by-moment choices, change your life!
Pay attention! Live in AWARENESS, not just on autopilot.
Notice your PATTERNS. WHO is going to live your life?
YOU or your patterns?
If we don’t confront Life, Life will confront us!
Refer to the meditation section of this Web site. Also explore these excellent, insightful teachings Buddhism in a Nutshell: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/buddhism-in-a-nutshell-teachings and Ken’s Website: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/index.php These teachings helped me understand the great suffering I see all around me and provides practical suggestions about how to make lasting changes that bring about well-being. Ah… Check out What You Plant Is What You Get.
Ken McLeod explores these concepts in his book Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering The Buddhist Path of Attention, By Ken McLeod, (2002), Harper Collins Publishers, Inc. An excellent resource on dismantling our automatic reactions and conditionings to life. Provides practical insights about how to train our minds to experience greater peace and contentment. Really GOOD! You can purchase the book at: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/ustore