The Healing Intention: Battling Habitual Behavior
Let’s face it—we all do things that we know are not healthy. What is important is that these behaviors don’t become habits that negatively affect our wellbeing.
“Habits play an important role in our health. Understanding the biology of how we develop routines and embrace new ones, could help us changes our lifestyles and adopt healthier behaviors.” –Nora Volkow, MD, National Institutes of Health
In many cases, habits are formed from repetition or routine. There are certain activities that we do so often, we begin to do them unconsciously. Once we lose consciousness, routines become habits that are very difficult to quit. But difficult does not mean impossible.
Good habits and bad habits in the brain would look surprisingly similar if we were to view them under a microscope. But according to Dr. Russell Poldrack, a neurologist at the University of Texas-Austin, certain habits, like those that bring pleasure, require much more work to curb.
“There’s one important difference-If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit even more. When you’re not doing those things, dopamine creates the craving to do it again. This explains why some people crave drugs, even if the drug no longer makes them feel particularly good once they take it.”
Breaking Bad Habits
Bad habits, even those formed by pleasurable experiences, can be broken. This is achieved by developing a healing intention. This is a conscious mental choice to improve your health and it is accomplished through awareness, intention and reflection.
Awareness is a component of your internal environment, which can dictate your behaviors and thereby prevent or end habits. Being aware means understanding your body and the signs it sends to you, as well as being able to interpret your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself; why do I smoke? Why do I binge drink? Why do I over-eat? Once you have answers, you can begin to set goals that will get rid of your bad habits.
Getting in touch with your inner-self is a challenge, but it is the key to develop the intention to heal. Some do this by prayer, meditation or by sitting quietly and relaxing. By making this connection, it is possible to direct your intention to bring this sense of peace and healing to yourself and others in your life.
Looking back at your experiences allows you to learn from them. A way to do this is to record your life’s events in a journal. Reflection on these past experiences, especially on occurrences that lead you to habits like addiction, can help you to understand who you are, what you believe in and what your place is in the world.
Experiencing Personal Wholeness
Personal wholeness is the sense of wellbeing that you feel when the mind, body and spirit are balanced. At this point, you will feel like you most authentic self and your consciousness is heightened, allowing you to prevent bad habits from reforming and live a healthier life.
You can learn more about habits and behavior in our book, Optimal Healing Environments: Your Healing Journey