Consciousness and the mind; are they the same thing? Over the years I have found that my mind has been more than capable of playing tricks on me – so much so, that many times I have found myself falling into a habit or two; bad habits, good habits, nail biting habits…all sorts of things. But what causes this? How does the mind create such things? And I ask myself again and again, how to break a habit.
A dictionary definition of a habit, naturally isn’t at all difficult to come by:
Habit: an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
Of course, “how to break a habit” can’t be found in a dictionary.
So there we have it a “behaviour pattern”. Ultimately, almost everything we do is a behaviour pattern isn’t it? There’s a great speech by Jiddu Krishnamurti, where he speaks of our daily routines; waking-up, showering, cleaning teeth, having breakfast, going to work etc. He says these things are habit, because we do them robotically without thought. That’s not something I can argue with, I look at my own life and see the truth in his words.
So is life a habit? Well I think that all depends on whether or not we go about life ‘consciously’; that is to say, “with lucid awareness of each of our actions and thoughts”. That sentence brings us closer to a distinction between ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’. If we go about life ‘robotically’, then sure – life becomes a habit – the mind takes over and we run on autopilot. Conversely, if we become conscious of our own actions – then we start ‘watching’ our own mind. We pay attention to what it is thinking, and the actions it is causing our body to perform. There’s the key then…right there…
Who is watching the mind?
After all, if we can ‘watch’ our own minds…then it follows that the ‘watcher’ isn’t the mind but something external to it. Is perhaps the ‘watcher’ somewhere deeper in the realms of our consciousness? What if we sit and watch the watcher then? That is – watch ourselves watching our mind. Think about that one. Or don’t think. Perhaps thinking can also be considered a habit; “How long does it take to break a bad habit?”, “How to change bad habits?” – and so on. These thoughts and questions in themselves eventually become routine thought based habits.
So…how to break a habit? Well for me, the process always has started with stepping ‘outside the mind’ – into that location where we find our ‘watcher’. The watcher is indifferent to habit and routine, these things are of no consequence to the watcher as such things are entirely bound within the constructs of the mind. When we become the watcher – we immediately become ‘aware’ of our thoughts and our actions, and that also means that each ‘habit’ becomes a conscious action because we are watching it and aware of it. The instant we are aware of something, we gain the option of choice; ‘free will’. Thus we start to move with more seriousness and awareness into our own consciousness. This can be done without habit and without routine based behaviour patterns.
This is where so many people make a mistake. When they attempt to break or change a habit, they do so through an effort of thought; they attempt to think their way out of the habit. Or alternatively, they re-program their mind with new behaviour patterns. The latter option is slightly more effective, however this too can be carried out without much awareness. This is because when we live inside our minds, we are bound within the walls of our mind; tied into its rules, beliefs and behaviour patterns.
Becoming aware of our behaviour patterns doesn’t automatically make them ‘easy’ to change. However, what does happen, is that we begin to move away from automatic ‘robot-like’ habit based behaviour, and into conscious awareness. And this can make all the difference in the world.