I am a stillness junky. Ok, maybe that’s romanticizing a bit. I do admit that years and years of fatigue have served my meditation and spiritual practice in many ways. But, I also know that oppressing myself physically is a hard habit to break. Like many patterns of behavior, it seems so simple and easy to create habits. We do something different, and the next thing we know it’s a regular part of our routine. The real challenge is to break old habits and conditioning! I am in a position now where I have done a lot of healing work that has resulted in my body being stronger, improved energy levels, and far less fatigue. However, what I realize is that the strongly ingrained program that resulted from decades of being physically unable to move more, has now become a huge resistance to healthy movement. What was once a necessary coping mechanism, now appears to be a hindrance to my growth.
More often than not, we create behaviors as a coping mechanism for something unpleasant in our lives. The challenge as we become more aware and heal, is to recognize that what once may have served our well-being may now be holding us back. An example of this is with children. As children, we encounter stressors that we are unable to make sense of or may not have any control over changing. Common defensive mechanisms in these circumstances may actually serve to protect a child from further stress or harm. By the time we reach adulthood, these same defense systems frequently become automatic and take place without our conscious awareness. We are then served with the task of digging through our psyches (frequently done more easily with the assistance of a therapist), in order to unearth the roots and structures of our past. Many may not choose to ever expose their inner, and often subconscious, battle to balance protection with healing and transformation. Regardless, the effort it takes to change can seem far more challenging than the often mindless effort we use to create coping mechanisms.
Why bother at all? Because, if we do not attempt to change, we will remain stuck fostering dis-ease, disempowerment, and lack of awareness. Eventually, we will be called upon to face the consequences of our choices and actions through death, disease, or crisis since our bodies are not made to last forever. Furthermore, the risk of habits becoming addictions is extremely high. Too often, what brings us comfort one moment is transformed into a carrot on a stick holding the promise of satisfaction and relief from our suffering, but never really manifesting. In reality, the methods we use to seek comfort can easily become dependencies used to avoid facing the uneasiness of discomfort. Ironically, our efforts to avoid suffering through addiction, whether utilizing too much or too little activity, work, TV, drugs, alcohol, food, computers, games, shopping, or whatever, serves to create more suffering due to the inability to genuinely satisfy our longing. I think, dependence to some thing to ease our suffering is a quality of being human that we all share. If we are to wake up and be mindful, we are then faced with the struggle of breaking free and neutralizing something that we have given power or control over to.
For me, I now find myself faced with the challenge and struggle to physically move more! I cherish my time alone, and I can resist “doing more” the way many resist slowing down and taking personal time to reflect. My challenge is to ignore my ingrained and subliminal messages that suggest that I am too tired, not motivated enough, or simply not in the mood or able to accomplish more physically. That somehow if I repeat old habits, I will magically shift into a physically active life style that creates more, moves more, and feels healthier. Some days I do better only to falter the next. Alas, change is rarely an overnight phenomena and can often feel like one step forward, two steps back. Maybe it’s like shifting my life from an introspective sitting meditation to a walking meditation. For now, I simply hope to embrace change and foster genuine health and healing by recognizing strengthening behaviors and releasing habits that no longer serve my well-being. And more importantly, try not to take myself too seriously when I rely on the illusion of comfort based habits instead of taking flight!