I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest  burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things I do you might as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great individuals and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I am Habit.

This riddle was read to me be my first boss in the corporate world.  Even eight years ago when I first heard this riddle, it “stuck” with me.

Breaking and creating new habits is HARD WORK.  Especially our thought and emotional patterns.  Yoga enables us to slowly chip away at creating more positive habits in both the body and mind.  And sometimes I do have those moments where I realize there have been positive changes.  The ego becomes less controlling, and we learn to become more selective in picking our battles.  We don’t get as worked up over the small stuff, and pretty soon we start to realize that what we once perceived as big stuff really only is small stuff.

But every once in awhile we get a good swift KICK in the face to encourage us to really evaluate how deeply we have broken/rewired those habits.  This past week was one of those weeks for my family and I.  This is the third big move we have done across country in 5.5 years, so one would think I would have created the right thinking habitual patterns when the unexpected (ie, selling/buying a home drama) shows up on my plate.  But here I was, for the third time in 5.5 years back in the same twisted ball of knots I experienced on the first initial move.  All the while I kept wondering, “WHAT is the lesson to be learned here?!?!”

Sometimes we just can’t see the lesson until we are out of the thick of it.  And maybe that’s why we were thrown into the thick of it in the first place.  To try again…to stay calm…to use the tools we have learned in our yoga practice to better cope…to have a higher threshold.

This DOES in fact happen in our physical practice.  Alex Korb, Ph.D. neuroscientist said, ” I came to realize that yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful.  It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit.”

So back to the mat I go to try harder, to learn more, to learn to sit in the THICK of a week like this week.  To be the calm amidst the storm.  Maybe, just maybe like Timarie said last week I can learn to become the magician versus the tyrant.

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