A month between posts again, but with good reason. I’ve been on a book binge, have traveled a little for work, and have been participating in a focused practice with friends, called “99 Days” — a play on the song 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, but with a positive overall intention of seeing and potentially affecting long standing habits.
You may remember that years ago research came out suggesting that it would take roughly 100 days to undo an old habit or to install a new one. So basically what we do is check in with one another every day for 99 days, which keeps our focus pretty steady. We each choose something different at first, although as time goes on and we support and follow one another, the practices have a way of blending.
My focus? I started with one, but moved into another I titled Unlearning Isolation, after a phrase in Rebecca Campbell’s book Light is the New Black.
In Rebecca’s book, it was almost a throw-away line, but one that jumped out and seized me strongly, becoming an easy intention to hold and remember day to day. My idea was to see if I could undo some of the isolating patterns I’ve cultivated as part of my personality for longer than I remember, by first noticing, then stepping out of them in a systematic way. I’ve had fairly good results so far.
It hasn’t been predictable. My early ideas feel almost quaint now – things like reading at the pool instead of inside of my apartment, or occasionally answering the phone without fielding calls. Instead, invitations have come up, and challenges to do things differently while traveling, like not wearing my i-pod as much, actually engaging with those around me.
Honestly, it has been a lot of fun.
One of the first things that happened was that I seemed to become hyper-aware of micro-expressions people, including myself, cycle through when engaging with the world. For many of us, there is a polite openness followed by a sudden gear switching, that if you really see in action, is quite amazing. Getting to that closing point, then breathing to relax and stay open a little longer, can feel like ‘going lucid’ in a dream.
In fact I had one quite wonderful encounter alongside a quite stressful one that I don’t think would have occurred if I’d not been out of my comfort zone in the first place.
There are stubborn obstacles that remain however, like a drained feeling after talking on the phone, that if I don’t slow down to work with, turns into a dread I then want to avoid. I suppose becoming more sensitive, making it into a thing, is part of the process, though. It has helped to hear from others that what I think of as highly personal struggles, are not too uncommon, like wanting to avoid events, being happy one didn’t, and then being very thankful when said events are over. 🙂