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Why Old Habits Die Hard

WE HAVE TO KEEP HEALING OVER AND OVER, UNTIL LIFE LOOKS DIFFERENT.

Why do we have to face the same challenges over and over and over again even when we feel like we've done the healing and dealt with the "issue"?

Why does it keep resurfacing?

And why are we still finding ourselves wounded by something that happened such a long time ago!? Shouldn't we be "over it" by now?

~

Some would say that any lesson we refuse to learn will repeat until we learn it.

In my experience, that's true.

SO... what stalls the learning?

The reason we think we've learned the lesson, but then keep repeating the same patterns is because the learning isn't only about the conscious mind.

The body needs to learn something new too.

Our body is also holding onto memories that our mind might not always be aware of.

The fact is, nothing we experience in life is forgotten.

Even if we don't consciously remember events - as in, cognitively we have no memory of something happening - the BODY remembers.

It is not good enough to simply deal with a situation on the story level and on the level of the thinking mind...

We also need to attend to the story the body is holding on to.

THE SCIENCE

When we experience something that causes a stress response in the body, it takes a snap shot of the environment and it stores in its memory everything the 5 senses encountered.

What did I see, hear, smell, taste and touch at the time that my body got stressed?

The body stores that.

It does this so that we can respond more quickly if we encounter something similar in the future.

In this way, our body is responding to the present moment based on what it has experienced in the past.

Our body is simply a print out of what has happened BEFORE this moment.

OUR BIOLOGY IS OUR BIOGRAPHY.

Our neural pathways have been formed according to what we ONCE thought to be true or what we experienced as a problem once upon a time. It isn't necessarily true of the now.

This is supposed to be an evolutionary advantage - and it is, until it's not.

It keeps us safe... until it keeps us stuck.

THE APPLICATION

When it comes to changing your experience of life... we can't ignore the body's memory.

For example - even if I tried to convince you not to worry about something and gave you new ways to think about the situation.. you might still be worried... because your body isn't convinced. It remembers a different story.

This is why need to remove the stress impressions from the body if we want our mind to get on board. We need to create safety in the body first.

This is why it is first through working on the body (the nervous system) that I help people change old patterns, release old stories and re-write their physiology.

This then prints out a different (and more flexible) psychology.

I've found change happens more efficiently this way.

 

Before you continue reading... in this next section I will be sharing a personal story about my mental health as a teenager.

If self-harm is a trigger for you, please stop here if you feel like reading on won't serve you.


 

When I was a teenager I didn't know how to deal with big emotions.

As a result, I used to hurt myself instead of process them healthily.

Every time I had a cruel or insecure thought about myself, every time I felt shame, every time I believed someone didn't like me or had betrayed me, every time my feelings got hurt... I would self-mutilate.

It became my coping mechanism for everything... and then... it became an addiction.

It just became something I did without needing a reason for it.

I had cuts all over my body - from wrists to shoulder, from ankle to hip, across my abdomen - wherever I could find some skin.

I had ingrained into my nervous system a belief (a repeated thought which leads to a conclusion) that I was no good.

That became the underlying feeling for life - even if I was otherwise happy, had a booming social life, had fine grades, enjoyed sport and performing arts and sometimes excelled in it, had a loving family... nothing really to suggest that I ought to feel this way. It was simply the coding on which I'd built my internal programming based on conclusions I'd made about myself and life. This came from a childhood trauma, which had thrust my system into a loop of fear and also created the lens through which my mind and body experienced the world.

The trauma was in my past - but my body and those deep subconscious beliefs, remained.

Now, without consciously knowing why, I had created a system of punishment, just for being. But it had also become my joy - because it made sense to me. It verified what I deeply believed. Therefore it felt right to me. It felt better not to disturb anyone with my "stuffed-upness". It felt easier to hurt myself than deal with my feelings - because I also didn't really understand them.

Habits form through repetition.

What we practice we get better at.

Because I practiced self-loathing thoughts, I got really good at self-loathing.

Because I practiced hurting myself on the outside every time I hurt on the inside, that is the neural pathway I grew.

The more we do it... the more we strengthen that neural pathway.

Then... every time a similar situation happens, it TRIGGERS a memory... and we perform the associated action.

This is how we develop patterns of behaviour.

Through repetition.

One day - I had a moment of lucidity and realized that I didn't want to continue hurting people around me by hurting myself.

I needed to stop - not for me... but for them.

It was a battle of willpower to stop the addiction.

That said - the trigger was always there and I'd have to use willpower not to hurt myself.

FOR THEM.

"Don't do it - for them" I'd tell myself.

Sometimes willpower won. Other times it didn't.

But willpower alone was a surface level fix.

So even once I thought I'd kicked the habit because significant periods of time would pass ... a time would come that I'd succumb to hurting myself again, in a moment where a situation felt too big for me.

Because I hadn't actually removed the memory from my nervous system (I'd only worked on the muscles of "don't do it" in my thinking mind)... the trigger (the belief that I'm bad - OR a big emotion that I didn't know how to simply be with and feel) was followed by the thought "hurt yourself". The trigger and the associated action never FULLY went away.

This is where Vedic Meditation comes in.

Every time we meditate, we heal the nervous system.

The body dives into a deep state of rest which allows stress to be released.

Both surface level stresses and more deeply entrenched stresses can start to uncoil.

Then a few things happen -

When we meditate we are creating order in the system.

Everything can settle down...

This state of hypo-metabolism also gives the body the opportunity to release what is no longer relevant.

Old stress impressions that have lodged themselves in our hardwiring have the opportunity to loosen, unfurl and can be released.

When the body is not saturated with stress (like taking a pot of rice off the boil) we can see the individual pieces more clearly.

As we let go of old stress impressions in the body, we also allow the release of hidden belief systems in our subconscious mind.

SLOW AND STEADY

If we don't attend to the body we'll stay stuck and won't FULLY release old patterns... and life will continue to repeat itself.

But - releasing the build up of stress can't happen all at once.

It needs to happen slowly, over time.

SO - life won't change in an INSTANT. We'll still have those impulses as the body heals.

That's fine though, because slow and steady is the most sustainable way, with this.

There isn't a magic overnight pill.

When we let go of too much stress, too quickly, this can be traumatic.

Too much, too fast = trauma.

We want the impressions in the nervous system to be released in stages.

Our nervous system needs to be ready to let go.

Remember - it's not always up to US and OUR TIMING...

That said - the fastest way to allow the body to release these old memories, is to create the right conditions for the body to let go.

SET YOURSELF UP TO WIN

The body is able to let go when it is resting deeply.

In Vedic Meditation we allow the body to rest much deeper than sleep 2 x every day.

Every time we meditate we allow hardwired patterns to dissolve.

Some behaviours and beliefs have become so hardwired into the tapestry of how we function... that the body needs time and repetition and multiple opportunities to release them.

YOU CAN'T RUSH YOUR HEALING

Be patient and kind as your body and mind reforms.

Since we've practiced many habits of thinking and being for so long... we need time to retrain our system to think and be something else.

As we release old patterns, we start to feel differently.

We start to see differently.

We start to think different.

BUT - the system can take time to digest this new paradigm and to feel safe enough to walk around without the old programming.

That's why we might notice ourselves WANTING to lean back into an old pattern, because even though our mind knows that the old programming isn't serving us anymore... the old programming is FAMILIAR!

Our nervous system LIKES familiar - even if that familiar is causing us pain.

This is why the body needs to be trained to become familiar with the new...

It needs to experience being able to use these new skills of making new choices enough times.

Through meditation, we've created enough space between impulse, thought and action... that we can actually start to practice new choices.

I CLOSE MY EYES IN ORDER TO SEE

As we start to heal the body and remove those now redundant memories from our nervous system, this allows the mind to become more suggestible for change.

As the body starts to relax and release old stress impressions, this gives us perspective and we realise the faulty conclusions we've made about ourselves and life.

We also gain access to our higher order thinking.

Plus - every time we meditate we flood the body with bliss chemicals - serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

This means that we retrain the body to be able to stay aware of whatever we are experiencing... while also feeling blissful and safe.

This means outside of meditation we can see when we are having old, redundant responses to present day situations... and then we can begin to decide how we want to respond consciously, rather than unconsciously react.

WHEN THE BODY IS READY, WE FINE-TUNE THE MIND

This is when we start working on our mindset and thinking systems in terms of how we see the world and ourselves in it.

We can now implant new beliefs and start practicing those.

The mindset part can't be ignored... because our underlying belief systems also determine our experience of life.


When we meditate we can oftentimes (without trying to) see our subconscious mind more clearly.


As students share their experiences with me, I can see their belief systems.

Belief systems are practiced thoughts underpinned by a conclusion.

The conclusions we have about life lead to our beliefs, lead to our thoughts, lead to our behaviours.

These systems can become very robust when we've practiced them for many years.

It takes time to practice new beliefs and have THOSE become the new beliefs.

The more we strengthen new beliefs... the weaker the old ones become.

This is often what I'm doing for my students in mindset training and group meditation.

Each time we experience a thought... we have the opportunity to re-write the neural pathway by moving our thinking system in a different direction.

This is what meditation allows us to do - especially when paired with mindset mentorship.

It actually rebuilds our body and mind in the direction we want it to go.

This is why meditation changed the game for me - especially as I started to work with teachers who helped me to see in a more empowering way.

It allowed me to re-write my body and mind so that it now holds a different story.

Over time, I re-conditioned my body to no longer even have the thought or physical desire to hurt myself.

Now it feels so far away from any kind of response to pain I'd think to have.

WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THINGS EVEN WHEN THEY HAPPENED A LONG TME AGO.. over and over again... until they becomes faint impulses, barely detectable... and then completely dissolve.

Practice makes perfect.

If you want to learn the practice that changed my life, let's begin.

Love Trace xxx


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