A Change of Habit

Autumn is my favorite time of year, in particular the week before Thanksgiving. For some years now, this is the time I assess the current year in preparation for its final toast on December 31. I love the season; it’s such a time of good feeling. There were years that I watched all the holiday programming television could provide. This year, I’m marking the season by not subscribing to any television programming for one year, perhaps forever. It’s a habit I’ve wanted to change for decades, and it seems the season to do so.

For me, most television programming is noisier than any form of social media on its worst day. And my limited engagement with social media is more free than not. Frankly, I can “click out” of either one quite easily but the television has held sway over me–admittedly, attachment–that social media does not have, yet. Television provides hours of images, day and night, and all I have to do is watch, mindlessly.

Cooper’s TV Reaction

Yet, for all of 2012, I have been exploring consciousness–being aware of being aware–by studying various ancient traditions, including the practice of meditation. Since July, I have been meditating daily, having missed only a handful of days in five months. Meditation is yet another change of habit that is a long time in coming.

In the posts I have written about meditation, specifically about being “in the gap,” I acknowledge my difficulty in learning to accept what is. Yet, it is that acceptance, the moving away from duality–not labeling a moment as this or that—that has allowed me to connect to consciousness, producing changes in my physiology as well.

The benefit of any habit is its consistency; in fact, that is the power of habit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in meditation. My daily connection to “the gap between thoughts”—where stillness or consciousness resides—always provides moments of calm, even relaxation. The more that I practice meditation, the less attention I pay to the constant chatter of my mind. Without attention, my thoughts do not attach.

Early on in my meditation practice, there were days the chatter was almost nonstop but there was always some point where I connected with the stillness.  And every connection affected my physiology. Frankly, when I was in the gap, I was not aware of any discomfort. In five months, I believe my discomfort level is significantly less, and while I do not yet fully understand all that may mean, I know it to be true.

There are other reasons for my improved physiology, including a healthy diet and exercise, but if I had to single out one aspect in the last two years it would be a change in consciousness. In other words, my reality has changed because my consciousness has changed, not my attitude but my awareness. It is not a matter of positive thinking for a change in consciousness has nothing to do with thinking and everything to do with being aware of being aware in every moment.

Autodidact that I am, I have sought out the ancient traditions and continue to do so but when I began my meditation practice is when I noticed the shift in my consciousness that affected my physiology. There is no doubt that the cumulative effect of the change in so many of my habits over the past two years is finally being realized–recently, I added a few fruits and legumes to my diet as well as sweet potatoes–but beyond the increased energy I receive from extra carbohydrates there is a hardened resilience born of acceptance.

I assure you that nothing in television programming can compare with all the realms I have yet to explore.

“In one atom are found all the elements of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found all the motions of existence; in one drop of water are found all the secrets of the endless oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of life.”–Khalil Gibran