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Harness the Power of Habits | The Truth Is You

Harness the Power of Habits


There's an odd little thing about looking at yourself. Once you look the lie of the separate self begins to unravel. Once you look, turning your attention directly to you, the end of the lie of the separate self is guaranteed. That will work out in different ways for different people, and may involve repeated looking. It may not. That one intentional look may be all that someone does.

The rate of the dissolution in the belief in the lie of the separate self will vary as well. For some it may be very fast. For some it may be a slow, drawn out process.

There's no real way to tell.

From what I have been able to gather based on the reports I have heard from others, my own path (which involved a whole lot of repeated looking) went somewhat quickly.

It seems to me that intentionally taking up the practice of repeated looking accelerates the process. Your mileage may vary, of course.

One area of human existence that has always fascinated me is habit. We tend to form them (positive, or negative), and they stick. Once a habit is in place it is hard to dislodge, or change. It can also be challenging to create new habits by design.

When I first heard about the looking from John Sherman, I decided to leverage the power of habits to build up the momentum of repeated looking. But, like I said, new habits are hard, and the looking is such a simple, fleeting thing that forming a habit around it promised to be difficult.

So, instead I attached the practice of looking to other habits and routines already in place.

Before I get into some thoughts about doing that, let's get what the looking is freshly in mind. In a nutshell, the argument is that most of human troubles stem from a central root. A seminal mistake. Buying into the idea that what you really are is an independent, long-lasting, self-reinforcing, separate thing. The self-sense we take for granted gets built up on that idea. From there we then proceed to make our way through life. The only trouble is, that idea is a lie. It does not tell the truth about what you are. The suggestion of the looking is that, in order to dissolve that lie, and find release from it, you take an actual and intentional look at you to expose yourself to the truth. One of the characteristics of lies is that they can't be found. If I tell you there is a diamond in my pocket, and I am lying, then if you look you will never find a diamond. So, if you focus on looking for a diamond you will always be frustrated. Instead you focus on looking at what's actually in the pocket. You take a look, for yourself.

It's the same with looking at you. For a moment, don't look at any stories about you, your history, your context, or even your content. Just look directly at you. That will do the trick, given time to work.

With all that in mind, here are a few ideas of where you could incorporate a look directly at you:

  1. You could look at you every time you open a door. This might not be a good idea to do when you are out and about, as you don't necessarily want to delay anyone else, but when you are home there is nothing wrong with taking a short pause with your hand on the door knob/handle to take a look at you.
  2. When you are getting ready for bed. Somewhere in the process, stop for a moment and turn your attention directly to you.
  3. When you wake up in the morning. We all have our little routines for this. At some point in the morning quiet (or rush, as the case may be) take a breath and look.
  4. On the toilet. Let's face it, we all get bored there. Why not incorporate a look while seeing to a very human piece of business. This might have the added benefit of bringing some more humility into our live. Who finds it easy to be arrogant when going number 2?
  5. When stepping out of your home for the day. Easy to combine with making sure you have everything.
  6. When you come back to your home from the day. Use that pause to enjoy the relief of being home again.
  7. Before you start your car (if you drive.) Or, as it's warming up, for better engine longevity. 
  8. When you are gearing up for a gym visit. This is a better use of your time than getting grumpy about having to go work out... again...
  9. When getting a glass of water. Which you should do several times daily anyways. 😉
  10. When you meditate. (If you do.) You can either do this as you settle onto your cushion and get your body aligned, or as the actual meditation itself. (I've tried both.)

There you have it. Ten places where you can work the habit of looking at you into your already existing daily habits and routines. I'll confess something to you here. Take a look at that list again. Got it? I did all of them. Yes, all. During the first year of my diving into this suggestion, I got pretty compulsive about it. That might not work for you, and I would be the last person to suggest that my path is good for anyone else. However, I think that trying one, or three, of these will produce good results for you.

If you decide to try it out I would love to hear how they work for you! Keep in touch. Thanks!

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Michael Bazeley
    5 years ago

    Hi Travis, thanks for your simple yet effective tips. Very pragmatically suggests a leading edge for what will become the larger custom of watching I Am, that strips away all I am not. I've had this mental model growing in my mind, kind of like an atomic structure: energy and activity around a central core of nothing but space…not trying to hang onto it, but it keeps popping into mind and it did again when I read your post. Thanks, mate!

    • Travis
      5 years ago

      Thanks for your kind words, Michael. I'm glad you liked the post. I dig your model. Thanks for sharing it!

      Kind of reminds me of the old Taoist teachings about the emptiness being the usefulness of the cup, or the wheel hub, or the door way. Cheers!