I just watched this rather lovely video on how the ancient chinese philosophers considered rituals a way to break the mindless habits/patterns that we have burned into our life.
I have recently become very aware of how the breaking of patterns shifts my mental energy. I unexpectedly had to change my desk at work. Moving the desk meant all of my mindless work patterns had to change. And that meant that I was constantly being brought into the current moment to act on a tiny thing because my normal thoughtless reach and grab habit was not working. The thing I was reaching for was somewhere else.
On the one hand it’s annoying, but I found that I was also more… energetic, more aware of my space and my co-workers. It made the job less rote because the pattern of small actions was drastically changed. I think this idea of having a break in patterns is important to keeping me focused and positively engaged in my life, rather than wandering and reacting.
Do things up differently. Be in a different space. Use different utensils. Eat different things. It makes me more mindful. And since the days of sunshine in my life are limited, I need to find ways to be more aware of them. More deeply engaged in them, rather than drifting aimlessly and thoughtlessly through them.
The problem with the “do it differently” thing is that habits, ingrained deeply in my life, are the thing that drag me through the dark abyss. When I’m in abyss, the stillness of my life is profound. I don’t do things no matter how much I think about doing it. So I make habits that will push me through once I take the first step. And most days I can manage a first step. Some days I can’t but most days…
And so I need to make sure that while I break up patterns, that I don’t break the good patterns, those habits that keep me tethered to living a reasonable life. Because there be dragons beyond some these patterns.