Recently, I have been working my way through some "pattern breaking" as I call it, and it’s not an easy process.
One of the hardest steps is the first - identifying the pattern. We all have them, it's just seems easier to keep blaming others for our problems, or ignoring that we've had the same fight with someone 100 times, or even that we don't like to be around certain people/scenarios/etc. These are all good circumstances to look for (when you are ready) and identify a pattern that you are playing out over-and-over again. Other good places to identify patterns is to watch the scenes and conversations unfold with those you live with, the family you grew up with, your work relationships, and even with friends. Most all of our patterns were formed as children so this is why our family has a knack for bringing these out in us. They become difficult to identify, and break, because they are so ingrained in us that we don't even notice they are there. It really takes a lot for us to step back and see things in a different light.
Part of this work is being able to look at your shadow side – your "flaws." And this means admitting that you are not perfect. This can be an immense obstacle that can prevent many people from going any further into pattern breaking. Those that believe they can do no wrong may be able to identify the pattern, but then will keep the blame all external, unable to look at their role in the pattern. This is obstacle number 2.
So once we've identified our pattern and accepted ownership of it, we must identify the root. Identifying the root will help heal the old would that caused the pattern to appear in the first place and will also help us in the future when we uncover other patterns that are actually just different manifestations of the one we are currently looking at, but lead us back to the same wounded feeling. If we are able to identify that wound, then it will be easier to identify this pattern and similar ones in the future because it will feel familiar within our physical, emotional and energetic bodies.
Many of our patterns come back to not fully loving and accepting ourselves – this is why I wrote The Power of Love blog. Some other common ones are not feeling safe, not feeling as if we belong, and not speaking our voice (or not feeling heard).
The "fun" part is that all patterns demonstrate themselves in different ways for each of us. I like to turn this pattern breaking stuff into a game of detective work. It's not like it's spelled out for you – you have to dig deeper to see what's before you so you can identify it. Finding that root is key, but it also takes a lot of courage.
And now we encounter the take action step of breaking the pattern. Another difficult step. Again, this is not an easy task. (Who am I kidding? None of these steps are easy.) We have to identify the pattern as it is unfolding. Whoa! This takes a gigantic amount of awareness and courage. As you move through the action step you will identify the pattern at various stages. It may be a day/week later, it may be just after the incident played out, it may be in the middle of it, or it may be as you begin to step into the pattern itself. This piece of the puzzle will take an indeterminate amount of time to solve. Not the answer we want to hear, but it's the truth. Our self awareness will play a big part in this, and so will our courage and willingness to be vulnerable. It takes a big person to stand in the midst of a pattern and own it. (This is a good place to mention that meditation helps us grow our self awareness. See Times of Transition for additional tips.)
The action step involves using the first 3 steps to help break the pattern. When you really take ownership of the pattern that you've identified, then you will begin to see it playing out before you a lot easier. When you fully know the root and can feel it within your body, you will be able to tune into and identify that feeling and know that you are stepping into your pattern. This will be key to helping you identify and break it.
You also have to remember that, no matter the point where you realize that you've hit the pattern, that is progress! Even though you may feel frustrated that you are bound to the pattern, be sure to celebrate! That awareness in identifying it, no matter the point in time in which you did, is success! Remember to love yourself as you are going through this process. Hey, that might even be the root of your pattern, so you get another opportunity to try it out. :)
Once you realize that you are playing out the pattern, you can change your programmed emotional response to a response of your true nature. This, is beautiful.
The process is not easy, but whoever said life would be easy? However, it doesn't have to be hard, either. But we make it hard. It's our own forgetfulness of who we are, and it's this inability to see our true nature and the true nature of everything around us that makes our journeys so tough. It's our own patterns that lay over and cover us, embedded into our egos, that prevent this. And it's busting through these patterns that allow us to see our true selves again.
Got any thoughts on this pattern breaking business? Please share them below.
How often have you thought, or had a friend say, I wish my life was more like (insert name here) they have (and here you can fill in the blank) happiness, a great partner, great friends, great career, their entire life together, etc.? I have heard, or overheard this comment often lately. Why is it that we still gravitate to the grass is always greener idiom? We are each human, we are made of the same stuff, why do we think that someone else's lot in life is easier/better/less emotional? And more important, why are we forgetting that the whole point of the idiom is that it isn't true? The grass is never greener.
Instead of gazing at the object of your "grass is always greener" life at the surface, examine it thoroughly with a microscope. You will see that it looks very different from what you imaged. Perhaps it might look remarkably similar to your own catalog of issues that you are hoping to run away from. Our problems are universal and the list of emotions we can possibly feel is limited to the same list. None of us is immune to the trials of life. We all must forge through the same ocean.
Life is a journey, and no one ever promised us that it would be easy. So how do we live a life with wild emotions and still find santosha (contentment)? We find our tricks (yoga, meditation, long walks in nature - to name a few options), we look to ourselves for the answers that we hold within, we turn to others for guidance. We begin to establish a trust in ourselves that we can get through anything; that we can move through whatever comes our way; that we have the courage, the faith, and the love within ourselves to break through our toughest binds. It's something that we often lose sight of, and to realize it again can be a journey in and of itself. The more we practice the easier it comes; the more we move through, the easier it is to remember that we've done it before. It may have looked different, felt different, but it took the same courage, faith, and love that we still carry within ourselves.
So remember, the next time you are looking at someone else, to see life through their eyes. To do this, simply list whatever struggles you are going through, remove the places and names for those won't be the same, but the rest will. If you are experiencing it, chances are so is the person's whose life you wished was your own. Or if they have indeed stumbled upon a plateau of contentment, ah, then you can find what tools they are using in their life to develop, grow, and sustain santosha and gather them for your own use. And don't forget to share it with the rest of us.
Jenn White, Yoga Educator, Meditation Teacher, and Owner of Embodied Bliss, began her journey of yoga and meditation in 2004 while recovering from a back injury. Feeling lost, restless and seeking something more from life, she found her path through meditation.
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