This Saturday a full moon will rise in a (very likely) clear North Carolina sky. Lately, I have been working with how to “let go” of habits which no longer serve me and working with the intention “In this moment, I choose health”. I have learned a lot about my so-called “triggers” and I can spot the moment of choice almost without fail. Unfortunately, I have not yet found my way to consistently choosing something different. Honestly, I usually choose the bad habit time and time again (In fact, as I write this blog I am finishing my glass of wine). Many people believe that the arrival of the full moon brings a power and an opportunity to “let go” of anything which does not serve your intention. So, I am choosing to invoke that power to explore and share with you what I have learned.
We can recognize a habit as bad and even forecast a situation that will almost always lead to exhibiting an unwanted behavior but still not feel free to choose something different. This is what it means to be “hooked” and it happens to the best of us. This week I learned that much of the problem lies in the dialogue we have with ourselves after the trigger. You know the one – “I know….but, in this case…” or, “if it weren’t for this person (or this situation) I could definitely have made the right choice” or, worse yet, “I cannot believe I am going to do this again – what kind of awful person must I be…when will I ever learn?” This dialogue, whether it is with yourself or with others, is the fuel for the fire of habit. What would happen if we just decided to let go of the “I know but” and the self-loathing, to just stop and feel the desire creep up and accept that it is uncomfortable and difficult. We could just quietly listen to the other person slander us or something we care about and not react but, instead, feel the tension build, notice the physical location and the intensity of this stress and then recognize that it is all temporary and irrelevant. Pema Chodron says that when we do this we open ourselves to a “positive groundlessness” – a state of uncomfortable and ungrounded freedom where we can then make a different choice. As we repeat this process day after day, we create new, positive, intentional habits. This appears to me to be the missing link in all the self-help lessons I have learned and practiced before. If this is true, recognizing what habits are not serving you is not nearly enough. Nor is it much more productive to focus on your intended, or more positive choices and habits. We need to “let go” of the need to justify, to blame, to rationalize, to equalize, to control or, engage with even the thought of the behavior and, then experience what that detachment feels like. Too often we feel the need to take a firm hold in something we believe in thinking that this will provide the footing we need to take the leap into what we truly want to happen. Chodron’s theory is quite different. I believe she is saying that if we grasp too strongly to any belief (positive or negative), we may be a little too comfortable there to make a solid leap for change. But if we allow ourselves to just experience what it feels like to be a “hooked” human being with an overactive brain and conflicting desires we will be free to move, change and evolve without constraint and without the holds that bring us back time and time again.
So, as you look up into the sky, and see the full moon rising this weekend, acknowledge what no longer serves you and, then, label all the reasons you feel it it isn’t right for you and all the reasons it is still comfortable for you and all the barriers you have to changing your behavior. Finally, choose to let go of all of these thoughts and prepare yourself to be drawn in by the moon’s gradual waning into a positive state of groundlessness and, subsequently, a gradual return to the power of fullness.