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EDITOR’S NOTE: In our ongoing series showcasing professional life coaches, this week’s feature is from Karen Jones, an ICS Counselor. She reflects on her recent learnings on mindfulness and how to practice it as a way of being.

Upon returning from my latest mindfulness retreat, I find myself continuing to contemplate some of the discussions that included the term, habit energies. As I understand it, habit energies are those patterns, responses, and ways of being that we develop after observing, learning, and practicing them. We then begin to use them in our lives without much conscious intention; perhaps more out of habit and routine.

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Habits may be useful in our lives by establishing safety and giving us a framework from which we view and have a relationship with the world. There are times, however, that I’ve realized, habit energies can interfere with and get in the way of a relationship and/or experience with others.

Habit energies may consist of eating certain foods or having certain beverages when we’re watching a sporting event, or preparing a meal. We may not set the intention to stop and pay attention to our bodies, minds, and emotions to discover whether we’re actually hungry or thirsty before partaking. Habit energies may allow us to have certain responses when we get home after a full day of errands and/or work, only to find someone relaxing on the couch and a sink full of dishes in the kitchen. We may have very routine ways of reacting to the sight without stopping to have a compassionate understanding of the situation we’ve just entered. These types of habit energies can reinforce negative attitudes and ideas, and steal precious opportunities to experience food, recreational events, and people in appreciative and understanding ways.

Currently, I am contemplating ways to reinforce my habit energies of gratitude and optimism. One of the ways I’m doing this is by reminding myself often to be in the present moment and pay attention to what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling physically and emotionally. This allows me to use mindfulness to access options and choices from my authentic self before responding to others and/or forming additional thoughts about the situation before me. My gentle reminder is a sticky note posted on my laptop:

“Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

–Viktor Frankl

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