Habits of mind are powerful and pervading. Whether we like it or not, a sizable portion of our thoughts and actions are dominated by habit. Having acquired or cultivated good habits you benefit from this dominance. Having acquired or cultivated bad habits you suffer from it.
Yet, you aren't a complete slave to habit either. You're actually a driver of habit; its master. But in order to realize this self mastery you want to gain perspective and insight into your habitual ways. You want to know yourself as the 'habit mind' and the reality beyond it.
As you get to know a reality beyond compulsive, habitual thinking - you begin to realize you have more freedom than you may have initially suspected. You start to see it's not necessary to be at the complete mercy of your habitual ways. Other avenues become available - you realize your power to actually step out of the mind.
The three habits of mind that free you, aren't really mind habits at all. They're actually habits for stepping out of the mind. Stepping beyond conceptual thought altogether, you connect to your innate intelligence. The warrior within is close at hand.
Here are the three habits for stepping out of the mind ...
Mindfulness (often misspelled as mindfullness) is a term used for describing the state of being presently aware. Caught up in thought is to obsess over the past, present or the future. Yet, thinking about the present isn't actually being present is it? Trying to force your mind to be present is still only thinking about presence.
You want to be it; not think it.
The thinking mind is incapable of true presence. It simply doesn't function that way. It can think about being presently aware, yet it can't actually get you there. Presence requires a look beyond conceptual thought - a step out of the mind is needed.
The very second you step out of the mind awareness is there. Presently aware, you can still make use of thinking. Yet, thinking can no longer make use of you. You gain a freedom from thinking that was previously absent. You become a 'free thinker' in the true sense of the word.
On the other hand, when caught up in thought - awareness is instantly lost. Developing the capacity to be presently aware, or mindful, offers the best of both worlds.
There is stillness of the body and there's stillness of the mind. The presence of one, doesn't necessarily imply the presence of the other. For example ...
A person can be physically still, yet at the very same time be experiencing tremendous inner turmoil. By the same token a person can be very physically active, while experiencing utter inner calm - a stillness. Even a tornado has a still center.
To be still doesn't mean to be passive. In fact, stillness and passivity are worlds apart. True stillness is very closely tied to movement. Movement and stillness feed into, and off of, each other. Intense outer activity invites inner stillness to take hold; while inner calm and stillness is just bursting with potentially active energy.
Being passive is to withhold or withdraw; while being still is to be on the very brink of vital action.
Stillness allows for an awareness of the mind. Internal dialogue and other mental noise become apparent. With stillness, you can suddenly observe - beginning to see the thinking mind for what it is. It's certainly not you.
When the mind stops, utter stillness is there for the very first time. Until that happens, you remain distracted from what's otherwise perfectly still. Catching a glimpse of such stillness is to catch a glimpse of the self that resides beyond all habits of mind.
Living the totality of you - being complete - would be easy with only one self and mind to contend with. Yet, as it turns out there's more to you than meets the eye.
Like an iceberg floating at sea, most of who you are remains submerged beneath the surface. Ten percent (at most) may be visible above the water.
Your thinking self and mind (conscious self) is the part above the surface. Your conditioned self and mind - and your living self and mind - are subconscious. They exist below the threshold of conscious awareness. Aligning your three faces of self and mind leads to authentic self expression - living the totality of who you are.
Look at your body - most of its vital functions operate on a subconscious level. Heart beat, temperature, nerve activity, digestion, hormone and enzyme regulation - none of which needs your conscious attention or input. That's your living self - governed by a natural (subconscious) intelligence.
The conditioned self too, is subconscious. Your habits of mind reside here.
Thinking self is conscious - actually, it's self-conscious. Thinking self can think about your living self and conditioned self - but they cannot return the favor in kind. That's probably why thinking self gets the bulk of your attention - despite the fact that your subconscious aspects, form by far the greater share of the totality of you.
The tip of the iceberg comes to think it's running the show, while the titan that's your subconscious mind is what's actually keeping it afloat. 'Egolessness' is by far a dominant feature of being; yet ego gets all the attention! Instead of maintaining awareness of the totality of life, we get caught by a small part of it. We lose ourselves to thinking - forgetting the powerhouse that makes thinking even possible.
A disconnection takes place. We become disjointed. The communion between conscious and subconscious mind has been forgotten.
An integration is called for. You need to re-open the communication channels between your conscious and subconscious mind. Instant self-hypnosis downloads and meditation are two effective methods to achieve such communion. Leaving old habits of mind behind to re-member the totality of you.
By cultivating mindfulness, stillness and integration as part of ongoing daily life you can work on gradually freeing yourself from the grip of the mind. Habits of mind lose their hold and a new kind of freedom emerges.