A habit means two things: one, there is a pattern, we do it regularly; second, we do it without understanding. We do it without being conscious. We are not really aware that this is happening. It just happens because of habit. There is no utilization of the mind. You don’t even think while doing. It just happens like in a machine. A button is pressed and the system starts operating, without understanding that why it is operating that way.

That is a habit.

In the moments when the habit functions, we do not even know what we do. Later on we may recall, we may repent, and we may feel bad. But when the habit is taking place, we have no awareness, and hence no power. You are powerless at that moment. Right in front of the habit, you are totally powerless. Now, how can there be ‘good habits’ and ‘bad habits’?

For a Jain, not eating meat is a good habit. But for people from some other religions, killing animals on the occasion of certain festivals is again a habit. Strange! Same act. For one it is a good habit, and for another one, it is a bad habit.

Do you really understand that why you are not eating meat? Do you really understand that why you are killing the animal? You are born in a particular religion, so since childhood you are told that eating meat is bad. So you do not eat meat. But do you really understand what is meat-eating? Do you really understand what is meant by killing?

Habit is that which you do regularly, but without understanding. Whatever we do regularly, but do not understand is a habit. Can there be good habits at all? Because if you say that something is a good habit, then you are also saying that not understanding is good. Because a habit by definition means- “I don’t understand but I do.” Can anything be a good habit? So let this come to you very clearly, very strongly. No habit is a good habit.

A habit prevents you from living fully. A habit prevents you from acting consciously. When you understand, you do not need habit. When you really know in attention, then habit becomes powerless. Whatever small things that you do throughout the day, start paying attention to them. Ask yourself, “Is this happening because I am aware, conscious. Or is this happening because I am habituated?”

~ Excerpts from the article, ‘How do I get rid of my bad habits?

Read more on ‘Living Fully’: Forget perfection, live fully

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