How to Get Rid of Bad Habits
Especially at the beginning of a new year, one question that frequently comes up is how to get rid of bad habits. There is no such thing as good habits and bad habits—all habits are bad. Habit means doing things unconsciously, automatically. If you were conscious, you would eat and sleep as necessary for the body. In fact, you would do everything as necessary. But now, a lot of your day-to-day activities follow a habit—when you should wake up or go to bed, what you should eat or not eat. If everything is by prescription, it is slavery—whether it comes from your doctor or a slave master. If you do not know what you really need at any given moment, it is due to lack of consciousness.
Classifying habits into good and bad ones is like saying there is good unconsciousness and bad unconsciousness. If you consider something a good habit, it is like saying you are unconscious in a nice way, which in a way means being dead in a nice way. The fundamental difference between being alive and being dead is being conscious versus being absolutely unconscious. Being partially unconscious is being partially dead. Do not establish any kind of habit.
The fundamental idea of withdrawing into retreats or coming to a spiritual space is to find a supportive atmosphere where you can do everything consciously. You somehow established habits to manage your day-to-day life. When you come to a spiritual space, you are supposed to pay attention to the requirements of your body, your mind, your emotions, and your energies. You need to consciously pay attention to what this life naturally longs for. If you are unconscious, it’s a crime against yourself.
If you want to get rid of habits, do not think you have to get rid of unconsciousness. The prefix “un-” suggests that something is nonexistent. Consciousness is. Un-consciousness is the absence of consciousness. You cannot get rid of something that does not exist. To use an example—suppose the room is dark. Trying to expel the darkness would be an insane effort. To get rid of darkness, you just have to light it up. Darkness is not an existence by itself. It is the absence of light. Similarly, unconsciousness is not an existence by itself. It is just absence of consciousness. If you become conscious, you will not need to fight with unconscious habits.
You need to work on becoming conscious. Being conscious is the essence of life. You know that you are alive only because you are reasonably conscious.
To become more conscious, you have to raise the intensity of your energies. That’s what we are working on. Your physical body has gathered inertia—that’s why the hatha yoga in the morning. Your mind has gotten into habitual patterns—that’s why the Inner Engineering class aspects and certain meditation practices. Your energies have gotten into their own patterns —that’s why sadhana. The idea is to break the cycles of unconsciousness and become conscious.
When you become conscious, at least initially, it looks like you are in unknown terrain—it seems difficult. When you do things habitually, it seems easier, but there is no awareness, no growth.
Habit means you have created a little prison for yourself, in which you will eventually suffer. Initially, it looks like efficiency. After some time, it is imprisonment. A prison is in many ways an epitome of efficiency. But efficiency is not what this life is striving for. This life is striving for the freedom to expand. When this is taken away, one’s face will become long and joyless in spite of a perfectly organized life.
Habit means you have become a slave of your own logic, and after some time, it becomes an automatic, unconscious pattern. To get rid of habits, you have to become conscious. If you become more conscious, there will be no such thing as habits. You will do what is right for you and the situation around you in this particular moment. Intention does not bring transformation—only consciousness does.
|Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally renowned speaker, Sadhguru is the founder of Isha Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human wellbeing. (www.isha.sadhguru.org)
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