No Chai High
I love my Chai...I really love my hot Chai Lattes with a shot of decaf espresso. It started as a little treat for a meeting I wasn't looking forward to and progressed to something similar to a pack a day habit. Meeting = Chai Latte...and I have a lot of meetings.
I took a week off earlier this month and stayed committed to not checking my email while I was on vacation. This is difficult for me but I'm fortunate to have both a staff and supervisor that support me even when I forget to support myself.
It wasn't until Thursday of that week off that I realized, I had not gone out for a single Chai. None. Not only had I not had one, it didn't even occur to me. My Chai habit had become an automatic coping mechanism, something I wasn't truly aware of until my need to cope was removed.
We fall into cycles, patterns, habit energy, and when we're not mindful about choices we are making, those choices become automatic. Those mindless choices can have a powerful impact when we're not even paying attention, and chances are, it's not in our best interest.
"Habit energy is pushing us, it pushes us to do things without our being aware. Sometimes we do something without knowing we're doing it. Even when we don't want to do something, we still do it. With awareness, we have a choice, we can act another way."
~ Thich Nhat Hahn ~ Your True Home
But breaking these habits and cycles are not typically an easy shift. I was fortunate that during my week off I was making a conscious effort to let go of expectations about the day. I didn't make plans. I read, laid by the community pool, napped, ate blueberry pancakes (thank you, hubby), napped again, walked, ran, practiced yoga, chanted, meditated, and binged Netflix with my husband. I had distractions that were fulfilling my need to disconnect from work and to do lists and connect with myself, nurture myself. So my mind didn't try to shift to automatic and attempt to comfort with habit. When being mindful, I have the power to make a different choice.
Since discovering my No Chai High, I've noticed other habit energy creeping in when I let my attention drift, or let go of mindful attention. Social media scrolling, checking email inboxes multiple times a day, reaching for my phone, being tempted by retail therapy, beelining for carbs at the end of the day, all try to fill the void left by a lack of intention and awareness. And when I notice, I acknowledge that I've noticed, ask myself with kindness why I'm trying to fill that space, and then make a choice, either to continue, or to take another path.
Now, I'm not going to say I don't enjoy a Chai Latte now and again, but when I do, it's not automatic. It's a mindful choice. And I enjoy that Chai with intention.
"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience."
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn ~