“…to be present in the moment…you need to slow down and let go of – or at least loosen – the habits you are addicted to.”
So says Sarah Susanka in her standout book The Not So Big Life.
I’m in the midst of changing some major habits simultaneously and I’m noticing how resistant I can be (even though, in all cases, it is my own dear self that instituted the change with no outside prod!). How angry and irritable giving up some of my remaining food drugs is making (dairy, wheat and sugar). Which, to me, proves the “drug” label. How much I fight my new exercise regime (which is LOTS). And how overwhelmed I feel by my increased committment to awareness and change of my environmental impact.
There are days, in fact, in which i become quite churlish. No ice cream AND turn up (or – gasp! off!) the air conditioning? PAH!
And I have chosen these changes. I remember making other U-turns from habits that were not serving me (I can hear my mean-voiced GPS lady “ReCALculating!”) that were, shall we say, more than encouraged upon me externally and being churlish – no, make that mean and miserable – then.
But I think Sarah is right. And by the way, if you haven’t read The Not So Big Life – well, you simply must. It’s superb.
It’s good that I am choosing health. I look around and see my contemporaries (and younger folks, alas) beginning a not-so-slow slide into ailment stew. I don’t want that. The guy I am working with on these nutritional changes told me that current research says that no more than 18% of disease/sickness is genetically based – the rest is lifestyle. I asked my friend Kay a similar question when she was working as a nurse in a hospital – what percentage of people you treat are there due to lifestyle? She said 70-80%. That rings true to me. I have always planned to follow Dylan Thomas’s advice to his father “Do not go gentle into that good night – rage! rage! against the dying of the light” – I have a lot of living to do and I want to be healthy for it.
It’s also good that I am choosing health for this planet I love – for Her own sake and my own and especially for my 11 grandnieces/grandnephews (and all that will be forthcoming – we have a prolific family!). It’s the right thing to do even when I feel curmudgeonly about it. (And, as an aside, I’m reading a GREAT book on environmentalism – Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson – it’s HILARIOUS too – book review promised as soon as I complete it).
But what’s better yet is what Sarah Susanka speaks of in the quote above – that letting go of habits that don’t serve me – relates to consciousness. I would say to her that it’s circular – I need to be conscious in order to make changes (trust me, I’m seeing this with the food thing – my reflexive food habits are IN MY FACE) but also, by changing my habits I acquire more presence, more consciousness.
While it can be painful to wake up (the show I heard on NPR that cows cry, and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma – the combo of which turned me away from eating other mammals) I think the numbness and blindness that we all can dip into in order to try to protect ourselves is ultimately more injurious.
What do you think? Have you changed habits? How did that relate to consciousness for you?