Our habit energies block our connection to our true center and the soft, effortless flow of the Life Force in our lives. We feel the habit energies as pain, discomfort, or discontent in our lives.
The following passage is from Justin Stone’s book, Spiritual Odyssey, Out of Bondage, page 10.
“We develop habit energies during our lifetime (Vashanas” in Sanskrit) and these not only motivate us in our lives but also make karma for the future. We believe we are perfectly free in our decisions and our movements, but, if we study ourselves closely and impartially we will find that we follow certain patterns, sometimes even asking ourselves why we made a particular mistake all over again…
Ultimately, the aim is to go back the way we came and undo the causes, the mental modifications which lead to the Vashanas…
If we are not content with our lives, we might take a look in the direction of these habit patterns. If you really want to you can change the direction in which you are heading.”
The circulating and balancing of Chi through the practice of T’ai Chi Chih has a great effect on our habit energies. This is evidenced by the countless letters Justin Stone, the originator of T’ai Chi Chih has received stating “T’ai Chi Chih has changed my life.” As the Chi flows and comes into balance, many people have found that unwanted habits have dropped away without any effort and they begin to get in touch Who and What they really are.
My practice of T’ai Chi Chih and the principles of movement have also been extremely helpful in supporting me in working directly with my habit energies as they arise in my moment to moment life. The ability to work directly with my habit energies as they arise has been monumental in my journey of living life from my true center. I greatly credit A. H. Almaas and his work in developing the Diamond Approach. The Diamond Approach is an inner work path grounded in psychology and self-awareness and dedicated to the discovery and development of the human essence. I am an on-going student of the Diamond Approach. My work with the Diamond Approach and its teachers has deepened my understanding and experience of Essence and the habit energies that block our Essence.
To learn more about the Diamond Approach and its school called the Ridhwan please see the Resources page.
Here is a short summary of what our habit energies are and how the practice and principles of T’ai Chi Chih can help you work with them.
Working with our Habit Energies
When we are born we are our True Nature, our Essence but without awareness. Essence is that within us that is unconditioned. It is not our thoughts, our emotions, or our body. It is the very substance of our existence. It is the flow of our aliveness and can only be felt when we are in our bodies and in the present moment. This flow arises out of our true center; a center of Stillness and Completeness. This flow can manifest in our lives as aspects or qualities like compassion, will, value, peace, strength, and joy. When our habit energies are out of the way Essence effortlessly flows and manifests whatever is required in any moment of our lives. It also flows to bring greater joy, beauty, meaning and fulfillment to our lives.
The loss of our connection to our true center and to the flow of our Essence happens slowly over our childhood. This happens because of the nature of the mind and its journey to self-awareness and the early conditioning from our family and environment. As contact with each Essential Aspect is lost, we are left with a feeling of incompleteness and deep lack. We have not lost our Essence though, we have just lost contact with it. As we lose contact with more and more of our Essential Nature the balance becomes tipped to a general sense of emptiness and deficiency. This inner state of deficiency can feel like a sense of being valueless, worthless, helpless, inadequate, and suspended without support. This is the false center of the personality and it is the center that most of us are identified with.
Our habit energies are the personality’s attempt to cope and survive from a core that is based on emptiness and deficiency. They are a reactivity to not having a connection to a true center of Stillness and Completeness. They are made up of self-images, beliefs about ourselves and others, and strategies for coping and survival. We often are not conscious of the personality’s center of deficiency and emptiness or our habit energies. The habit energies live as tensions in our bodies that block our very Life Force. They show up as pain, discomfort, or discontent in any area of our life.
For example, if one loses contact with the essential Aspect of Value it can feel like a deep sense of inferiority or lack of self-esteem. The personality or habit energies will try and deal with this by trying to get approval or praise from others. The personality always wants what Essence is but sees it as outside itself since its very center and source is one of emptiness and lack. When we are not getting approval or praise this may trigger a feeling of fear, anxiety or panic. Another way our habit energies could cope with lack of Value would be to create an image of superiority over others. One would then react with anger when this superiority is challenged. Real Value, however, is a state of being that flows from our true center. There is nothing we can do to receive Value. Our very existence and Essence is Value.
The first task in working with our habit energies is to wake up to them in our lives. We do this by cultivating awareness and Presence. T’ai Chi Chih helps one cultivate Presence by its continual focus on grounding through bringing our awareness into the soles of our feet and our bodies.
The second task in working with our habit energies is to work with any internal judgment we have about ourselves or any feelings and sensations that are arising within us. We all have an internal voice of guilt, shame, or judgment. This voice is a habit energy and blocks our very Essence and Life Force. A key principle in T’ai Chi Chih is flowing from the center (T’an T’ien or belly). The constant awareness of the belly enter in T’ai Chi Chih strengthens one’s alignment with the true center within. This is the very support we need to say NO to the voice of judgment and to be with ourselves and our experience with complete acceptance and non-judgment.
Our habit energies are tensions or constrictions that prevent us from feeling our feelings. Our Chi cannot flow where there is tension or constriction. Through the principle of softness and continuity in T’ai Chi Chih we learn to let go of this constriction and give breath and space to all that arises within us including our feelings. Contained in these feelings is our own Life Force. We all have patterns of repressing or expressing our feelings but not actually staying with the actual sensations in our bodies as we are feeling them. This is the 3rd task in working with our habit energies. The more we let go and soften into our experience, while maintaining a sense of Presence and awareness, the more our Life Force flows. Through T’ai Chi Chih we are discovering true strength which really comes by being soft and vulnerable to all that arises in us. As we keep staying with our feelings the blockages caused by our habit energies are released and understanding begins to arise around our habit energies. Once we clearly see and understand a habit energy its time of running our lives is up.
As we keep relaxing into ourselves we discover the true power of non-doing, which is the very essence of T’ai Chi Chih. As we keep staying with each feeling as it arises we will ultimately meet with the deep painful emptiness of the personality’s center. As we are with the emptiness it will begin to change into a Presence that feels spacious, free, and peaceful. The very emptiness of the personality then becomes a spaciousness that gives birth to the quality of Essence that seemed missing. The very Essential Aspect that our habit energies tried to get from the outside.
Our work with our habit energies and the unfoldment of Essence in our lives flows without effort from our very center. When an emerging Essential Aspect is ready to be expressed more fully in our lives True Nature will bring to light for us all our habit energies that block its expression. This may at first be expressed as an intensification of tension, conflict or difficulty in an area of our life. This intensification arises to help us wake up to the habit energies that block the Essential aspect that is wanting to be expressed more fully. By using the principles of T’ai Chi Chih our tensions and habit energies can become the very gifts that help us discover Who andWhat we really are. Our job is to trust Essence completely and not to shy away from any feeling or experience that is moving through us. Remember T’ai Chi Chih is with us, holding and guiding us every step of the way!
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