Mindfulness shows us what’s going on at a given moment, so we can assess our actions and let go of old habits and form new ones. Mindfulness involves being curious about what’s going on, which can be a rewarding experience for the brain. Curiosity might make you realize that you’re feeling restless or stressed.
I got carried away indulging things. We want to break bad habits, but those habits bring us enjoyment of some shape or kind. The fact is, we become involved in things. You have to ask yourself: what is bad about your habits? How might you change them? Do something different?
If you pay close attention, awareness doesn’t change the contents of the experience — rather, it frees us, here and now, to choose what to do with the contents of the experience, and how to view it.
Awareness puts things into their context. In other words, being mindful is not a thing that you are doing, instead, we might say, being mindful is ceasing to become involved in things. We see the bigger picture, the long game.
That is how mindfulness helps “break bad habits.” It doesn’t break them. You must choose freely to do something else. We cease to become involved in things that no longer serve us. Whatever we are attached to, we let go.
Example: “I’m quitting smoking.” Or binging, or drinking, or whatever. When we are mindful, we don’t need to think about smoking etc., because even if or when we find ourselves reaching for a smoke — or we’re deep into a binge — wherever we are, whenever, the moment we awake and become aware of our situation, we are “presented” with a choice: (1) continue our behavior or (2) do anything else. Here’s where breathing is useful. If you choose option 2: breathe. Recognize the moment of transition. How might one live differently?
Having a plan is important, a method. Each time I think about smoking I get to choose whether to indulge a painful/pleasure-seeking/dangerous/seductive vice or do anything else, have an entirely different trip.
Experiment. Try different things. Practice mindfulness wherever/whenever you can. May you find what you seek.