Taming Old Habits

Yesterday was an intense day as are most days when I work with addicts struggling to take their lives back from the wicked and enticing energy of drugs and alcohol. The people I work with often have left their lives in ruin because of the power of these addictive substances. No only have they created a mess of their lives but they have also destroyed any sense of self-worth.

One of the graduates of our program from about 4 months ago ended in our detox program and he seemed really disappointed with himself. Relapse is a regular part of the journey of recovery. Each time they fail and get back on track they seem to gain valuable learning and strength to go back at it. This acquired learning through messing up seems to be the path many of us choose to take towards the life we want. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that hard?

Anyone who diets knows the challenges of doing well and then falling off the wagon. Quitting smoking is like that also. Any breaking of old habits takes some real effort no matter how much we think we are focused.

I grew up in a family of six and I was the oldest. Eating around our house was a matter of survival of the fittest. If you wanted seconds, you had to eat fast or there would be nothing left. My mother was no Betty Crocker but as kids we had big appetites and so we always wanted more. I developed a habit of eating fast and still to this day I eat too fast. It has been my intention for years to slow down but I find myself remembering after I am done that I wanted to eat more slowly.

Eating can be a wonderful meditation or mindfulness practice and it would actually enhance my enjoyment of food. This fast eating too often leaves my stomach in chaos. Recently my iron stomach doesn’t seem to like the daily avalanche and it is letting me know clearly to slow down. Slowing down is something I do well in most areas of my life except eating and writing in my journal which I often speed through like I am in a hurry.

This month I have made a commitment to myself to slow down my eating and put the emphasis on enjoying the tastes and being mindful. I will let you know how this goes because I am going to try and break an old habit. I am sure my stomach will be appreciative. Old habits can be powerful forces but I am confident my heart, body and mind can meet this goal. It is my intention to make this change in kind and caring ways and to do so with effortless effort. More on this effortless effort and self kindness in a future blog.