My husband has a habit of giving me flowers.  How cool is that!  Today is Valentine’s Day, and waiting for me in the early morning was a beautiful orchid, with luscious gold and purple flowers, and many buds to come.

I have also picked up this habit, so next to the orchid was a spring bouquet I had gotten for him. This kind of habit brings joy and, well yes, love and connection. Sweet.

But giving flowers is not the only kind of habit. Some have more challenged!   I have had the habit of sleeping on my stomach — I slept that way  for the first 50 years of my life!  Loved it.  Then I learned that side sleeping is better for back, neck… It was hard to make the switch, because those age-old patterns have deep grooves.

But now, with the shoulder injuries I am experiencing, several body workers are in agreement that sleeping on my side will prolong the healing process, maybe even prevent full recovery.  To be in proper alignment for healing, I need to sleep on, oh no, my back!  I have never slept on my back, and actually thought it wasn’t such a good thing.  But it’s clearly called for at this point.  That’s already a lesson:  things aren’t the way they seem, what fits and works, maybe even for decades, may no longer serve.  Are there habits, ideas, beliefs, like that in your life?  Anything up right now for you?

Trying to develop this new habit, I have been though a very rough week — full of fatigue, frustration, concern, humility, and illumination.  A whopping AFGO.  Remember those? “Another Fricking Growth Opportunity”!

I used to pride myself (oops, not so good, eh?) on having pretty good control over my mind at night.  I have practices  and visualizations to relax, to calm my body and mind, and get rest even if I’m not able to fall asleep right away.  I do pretty well on airplanes, don’t experience much jet lag, because I say to myself, relaxed rest is almost as good as sleep.

Well, on my back all this flew out the window.  I attempted my practices, and soon found myself distracted by thoughts, plagued by body sensations: “I can’t do this, it is uncomfortable.  Is it really necessary? I’ll never be able to sleep well again…”  My body got restless, I flopped around, felt exposed and un-cozy on my back, the pain in the shoulders loomed larger than in the daytime…  You get the picture.  I didn’t sleep much for five days.  Fatigue writ large.  And sleep is vital for healing, so I was becoming frustrated and concerned.

On the sixth day I awoke and said to myself, “I can’t seem do this, not by myself. The usual tools aren’t working.”  Humility.  I am not in charge the way my ego believes I am.

There are forces, and habits are a prime example, that really run us, sometimes to the ground.  At those times, under stress, our mind tends to run in the same grooves.  (A superb reference in this area, with resources, and tools for immediate use,  is Laurel Mellin‘s Emotional Brain Training manual,Wired for Joy.)

Brainstorming with Mike: I need to try something different.  Illumination. I do not have to do this alone, in the dark, by myself, on my back!  We have a friend who works with hypnotherapy, and other subtle approaches to break deleterious habits.  I’ll call Larry to begin to connect different circuits, enlist my unconscious, make other resources available! 

Hey, and you know what? Maybe I’ll take some sleeping pills to help me get some needed rest while I am rewiring my mind and body to the new situation. And maybe I’ll ask Silent Unity to pray for me, my healing, and for help in this transition. I’m used to listing family and friends names with Unity.  It felt odd but right to ask for help for myself.

Well that day I got some sleeping pills, and signed up with Unity.  A day later, I booked an appointment with Larry.
I have slept well for several nights now, the pain continues to abate.  I feel as though the combination of giving up my pride, my sense of being in control (wait, haven’t I already learned this one?  Oh, right.  It’s never ending, this journey!),  thinking outside my usual habit boxes, asking for help, recognition of the immense power of habits of mind and body, have put me on a new course.  Don’t know where it will go, of course, I’m not in charge here.  But breaking free from old habits is quite a trip!

How does all this sit with you?  Do you have ruts, patterns, habits that are deeply grooved?  I’d love to hear your comments and experience.

And Happy Valentines Day.  May love enfold and surround you, heal and bless you.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self -reflection, and to mine our memorable moments  for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback is most welcome.

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