This week I have invited my friend Eric Klein to share a perspective about changing the patterns that can keep us stuck in life and work. I hope you enjoy it.
What do you do about those patterns anyway?
Imagine a friend comes to you all excited about her new relationship. She’s glowing. You’re wary. You’ve seen her like this before. You’ve heard all the same words. And based on her history, you’re pretty sure where this relationship is headed – right into the same rut. It’s a pattern of hers.
You can see the pattern.
You see the pattern of thought, speech, and action that keeps her spinning through repetitive relationship dramas. It’s clear to you that her problem is the pattern – a repetitive pattern that shapes her intimate relationships.
As long as she perpetuates it, she’ll continue to get the same results – drama, pain, and breakup.
You can see her pattern clearly, she can’t.
You’re able to witness her pattern as it arises without believing this time it will be different. Not because you’re psychic or cynical. But because you can see clearly with compassion and detachment.
As a compassionate detached observer, you see her pattern as a pattern. You’re able to witness the pattern as it arises without being swept into the drama, without buying into it. But your friend doesn’t see her own pattern.
She doesn’t witness it arising.
She gets sucked in and experiences the same drama over and over again. To leave her karma, your friend needs to witness her own karmic patterns.
She needs to step out of her pattern in order to generate new life experience.
But, how can she do this, when the sensations, emotions, and thoughts that are swirling through her body and mind all insist . . . this is the one.
She needs to observe with compassion and detachment her own thoughts, words, and deeds as a pattern, and then see the connection between that pattern and failed romance. And she can. She just has to learn how.
But, here’s the rub – this isn’t really about your friend.
It’s about how your patterns of thought, speech, and action keep you stuck.
Because there’s some aspect of your life that’s not working. Some part of your life where you spin through repetitive cycles of struggle and drama, where you need to transform your patterns.
Take a moment and name such a pattern.
How you can get un-stuck from that pattern?
Because you can. But not when you’re identified with the pattern. Being identified means:
• Not witnessing your patterns as they arise
• Being tangled up in repetitive thoughts and emotions
• Reacting in ways that perpetuate the experience of struggle.
Whatever you identify with – you can’t observe.
Un-observed patterns of thought, speech, and action continue to generate experiences without your conscious participation.
If you don’t witness patterns with compassion and detachment – it repeats as unsatisfactory – and familiar – events, experiences, and situations.
When you observe the pattern with compassion and detachment, you see how that thought propels your life experience, moment-by-moment. You witness this pattern as it arises with an open heart and clear mind.
You see it forming within your mind and body as clearly as you see your friend’s pattern forming in her life.
Building your witnessing capacity is the key to getting unstuck.
It’s the key to liberating yourself from the patterns that limit your happiness, creativity, and success.
You build this capacity through spiritual practice.
You knew that was coming, didn’t you?
Spiritual practice is the method that builds your witnessing capacity. By spiritual practice, I mean a formal practice meditation or contemplative prayer that you engage in every single day.
Thinking about your patterns isn’t spiritual practice.
If thinking about your pattern could liberate you – it would have. Thinking has an important function in your life. But, it’s not up to transforming patterns. That takes a consciousness that is deeper than thought. It takes witnessing.
Witnessing operates at a level of consciousness that is deeper than thought.
Thought is a pattern that arises within the field of awareness. Thought (and emotion) are different from awareness. Stop and re-read that. Now, feel it. Experience it.
Experiencing thought and emotion arising – without getting tangled up in them or resisting them – is the beginning of witnessing. Witnessing is the activity of awareness itself.
Witnessing has the quality of non-identification.
Not the cold, aloof, judging witnessing of the critical mind. Not at all. Witnessing – as the activity of awareness itself – is loving, radiant, and infuses all it sees with light. This infusion is the secret sauce of spiritual practice.
This infusion of light dissolves the patterns that bind you.
You don’t think your way out of patterns. You don’t solve the pattern or figure it out.
You dissolve the pattern by infusing it with the light of loving awareness. The witnessing action of awareness enters and dissolves the pattern. This process of dissolving is blissful. And it occurs naturally and at its own pace.
As the patterns dissolve – your freedom increases.
New possibilities emerge. Along with new possibilities . . . a new self emerges. This new self is composed of new patterns of thought, speech, and action.
You don’t devise the new patterns.
You just do spiritual practice – which dissolves the old pattern in loving awareness. The new pattern arises by itself. You can’t predict it. But you can open to it . . . by taking time each day for spiritual practice. Then when your own mind comes rushing up to you all excited about a new relationship/challenge/problem/crisis… you’ll see the pattern as a pattern and breathe . . . smile . . . and bathe it is loving awareness
If you’re ready to start, sustain, and deepen a daily practice check out the Meditation Habit
, click here.
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Dharma Doodle by Eric Klein.