Habits and rituals

Watch your thoughts. They become words.
Watch your words. They become deeds.
Watch your deeds. They become habits.
Watch your habits. They become character.
Character is everything. (unknown)

About eight weeks ago I began a new coaching training – Innergetics.

“Our relationship to food is a central one that reflects our gut-based attitudes toward our environment and ourselves.
As a practice, embodied mindful eating can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, and deep insights into the core roots of health and contentment.”

At the very beginning, I blogged about the effects of mindful eating and the first week of learning.

As I have learned to eat “enough”, I have found a great joy in not being “full” and certainly not stuffed.  Then I had a bad day in the office. And at both lunch and dinner, I ate on “auto-pilot”, without mindfulness throughout the meal of where the “enough” point was. I simply finished what was on the plate (a habit that I still haven’t finished re-learning).  And I left the table feeling bloated. And for the next hour or two, I was not at my best. I was not sharp. My  body was busy dealing with the “flooding” of food.

This, in and of itself, was a great lesson.

As these eight weeks have progressed, I have learned so much about myself through this new awareness of what I am doing. Even the days that I forget to record or consciously choose not to record. There are lessons in it all.

Some say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit, others say 31 days.  Either way, I’m well past those number, and now when I eat I notice when I forgot my notebook. Taking the time to pause pause every time you eat allows you to note down “where am I at?” in terms of hunger. And creating that pause, like the pause for grace, allows you to notice many small things.

For example, I have started to notice when I go to the kitchen to eat… when I’m not actually hungry! The lessons! I am gaining deep insights into the roots of my health and happiness.

I never noticed this grazing before. Until I made this new habit: pause and write down how hungry you are.

“I’m not hungry. So what am I doing in the kitchen looking for food?”

I am now noticing how often I go searching for food to “graze” on, when I am not actually physically hungry.  And this grazing leads to a constant feeling of being bloated, stuffed and uncomfortable.

So, why do I eat? Usually because:

  • I want to “sugar coat” something
  • There’s something in my life I don’t want to stomach
  • I am feeling anxious and I want to “drown” the feeling
  • I am “hungry” for inspiration or ideas
  • I am thirsty, and mistake it for hunger
  • I am trying to “push something down”

I think you get the idea.

citrine, habits, rituals, awareness, eating, writing, blogs

But the biggest lesson has come in relation to my writing, and is the reason why I titled this post “habits and rituals“.  Unbeknownst to me, my habit or ritual when I am writing is to sit down at the computer, get up, walk into the kitchen, and drown the discomfort of not knowing what to write with food.

Yes. Just as you read that right.

I sit down.
I write nothing.

I get up. I walk (zombie mode) to the kitchen and find something to chew on.
Like a cow chewing its cud. Because maybe I need to mull this over.
Maybe I’m hungry for new ideas or creative thoughts.

Maybe the act of chewing relieves some of the anxiety – the need for “movement”.
Maybe I am hungering for security.

Whatever it is: it’s not eating for nourishment of my body or nutrients.

And so, in learning the pause as a new habit, before I start to eat, I have become aware of this habit and ritual that goes hand in hand with writing.

In speaking about it over breakfast one day with Bonnie, she reminded me – you need to replace it with a new ritual.  writing, rock, crystal, citrine, inspiration, ideas, creativity, flow

One of the things I realised was that I should, as part of that ritual, always go to get myself a glass of water. Maybe I am thirsty; brains burn a lot of energy when thinking and creating!

But I wanted something special for this new ritual (and not food, although that was quite tempting).

So, yesterday, I went and bought myself a new “writing rock“.  A lovely citrine crystal that sits perfectly in my hand, so that I can create a new ritual (rather than going to the kitchen to eat).

So now, when I get the urge to eat (or at the moment, when I find myself in the kitchen looking for something to eat), I take myself back to me desk, I sit and I hold my writing rock, and then I simply sit in silence and give myself space and time. Because maybe the trip to the kitchen is about getting away from the pressure to write “now”. Maybe I need a moment to ground myself before I get started.

So, at the moment, I am experimenting with this new ritual.  I’m not quite sure what the answer to this question is yet: what was I looking for in the kitchen?

But, I know that the words will start to flow. They always do. Eventually.
But there’s no need to be constantly feeling bloated and full in order to get there.

For now, it’s all about creating a new habit and ritual about how to get the creative juices flowing (a little like you get the digestive juices flowing).

So, what habits and rituals do you need to look at in your life?

What would you like to change?


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