Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a re-surfacing of an old habit energy. The sort of pattern of behavior that we all have – stemming from long ago – that we thought was relegated to the past. The kind we think we had transformed and grown out of. Yeah, it’s like that.
Something I’ve come to understand is that transformation of unskillful behaviors and thought patterns is an ongoing journey. So, just because something is re-surfacing now doesn’t mean the work I’ve done in the past becomes null and void. It doesn’t mean I’ve done something wrong or even that anything needs fixing. This re-surfacing simply speaks to the nature of impermanence and how everything is always changing and shifting. Deeply rooted habit energies can go dormant for long stretches of time and then re-appear, indicating that the journey continues. It’s nothing to fret or worry about. These truths comfort me during times such as this.
What interests me about this old habit energy arising is that while some part of me know it’s groundless, another part is lured in by it. Groundless in the sense that it’s based on fictitious notions and fleeting desires – full of holes, hollow. And still…
A source of suffering is to be forever tempted and swayed by something bright and shiny and new. Something outside of our grasp and ownership, whether it’s an object, an adventure, or another lover. What is it that beckons us? The prospect of a happiness we have yet to find but hope is out there? A temporary filling up of a hole we’ve been aching to not trip and fall into? What are we looking for?! What am I looking for? Am I looking for something? Is something operating subconsciously that I’m not tuned into? Or could it be that this old habit energy simply needs more tending to, more caring for, more befriending?
On some level we all know that the bright and shiny whatever it is will wear down its luster and allure. Yet, we are still held firmly in the continuation to keep trying to make it last, to hold out hope that this time will be different. But it never is. As long as our happiness hinges on something changing – on something acquired – dependent on certain causes and conditions – will we not be setting the stage to be deflated and disappointed?
But, isn’t it okay to have fun, too? we ponder. Well, shoot. Of course it is! All of this isn’t to say we shouldn’t be attracted to something bright and shiny – it’s not even to say we shouldn’t succumb to the allure. So what the heck are we to do?! Welp, for me it comes down to staying in close contact with what’s going on and what my motivations and intentions are in any given moment. It’s about actively engaging in such questions as: What am I looking for? What do I want? Would succumbing to ____ be helpful or harmful or both? I also practice deep looking in the sense of trying to follow through what it might look like if I were to give in to certain impulses. For me it’s about staying in close relationship with myself. About investigating and delving into what’s really going on – what’s fueling my desires – what’s steering the boat. Creating a little bit of spaciousness in order to make an informed decision about how to proceed, verses running on mere reactivity.
And for sure, certain bright & shiny things are easier to work with than others. Some things are easier to talk ourselves out of pursuing. And some things, too, we may decide quite readily that we’re perfectly content stepping INto, as well. And then there are some desires which have a very strong pull and it takes the process of slowing down, backing up, developing perspective, and waiting with as much patience as we can muster, in order for the initial swell of emotions to subside enough to know what the heck to do next.
The practice continues…