From Habits to Expertise
We humans are creatures of habit— or so they say. But what happens when we come into the habit of conscious awareness? We see ourselves in a new, and constantly renewing light. We choose when we repeat which actions, and when, because we know that we become expert in what we do often.
We trade in habits for expertise.
Along the continuum from rote/mindless habits to conscious expertise, we become familiar with our repetitive thoughts and actions. Recognizing repetition comes on many levels: the content, meaning the words themselves, but also the tone of the repetition, and the look of the repetition.
Tone is the sound, the energy frequency of the thoughts/actions we repeat again and again. Those thoughts that arise repeatedly can be the kind of repetition that sounds like whining, or wheedling: the childlike, complaint-like energy of disenfranchisement, of not being or feeling empowered to take action on what is important.
When we do know that we are empowered, then repetitive thoughts can be the reminders of goals we hunt/seek.
Repetitive thoughts pause when we get what we want, or when we are distracted/immersed in other pursuits, or entertained/engaged in real life. They will shift slightly as we learn and evolve, so that repetition will turn into refinement, the act of editing, polishing, practicing.
The refinement of thought and action are tools for positive change when we are direct, purposeful in our inner life. Without this sure sense of purpose, repetitive thoughts masquerade as necessity: we think the repetition means urgency, importance. We trust the repetitive thoughts in the same way we trust the things we see and hear again and again: we rest in the familiarity, the reliability, the certainty of knowing what we know.
This comfort in the familiar is the greatest block to conscious awareness: when we think we know, then we close our eyes, blocking out the wildness of the world. With our certainty, born of repetition, we presume we know all of what is happening, as well as what will happen. We forget that every instance is unique. Our senses become dull and dreamy, disconnecting and drifting away from our reality.
Repetition gives us an escape. It saves us from the energy of perceiving the surprising, and we either rest in this low-energy state or we direct our energy elsewhere: into focused work while we block out what is happening around and within us.
When our repetitive thoughts carry the tone of regret, we are revisiting actions we never began or never completed. Repetition is a signal, or a burden. We fixate on the past potentials, which limits our present potentials, and we choose a future that is held down by our past.
We can be harsh in our tone of repetition, hurting ourselves and others in our repeated actions, deepening negative patterns the same way that water will wear into stone, or water drops are used as torture. When we are accustomed to this harshness, we rely on it, feeling that negative energy is the spur towards corrective action. We fixate on fixing, and because we are repetitive in thoughts, we create repetitive circumstances.
Stepping away from the cycle requires high energy. There is no best time to stop a cycle: the nature of a cycle is to go on; there are no beginnings and endings. But once we sense pattern, we can play with the order of the pattern, pulling at strings until the weave unravels and we feel looser, able to see the light that was caught by our own blindfolds.
This is the kind of repetition that is experimental, the way that science seeks to repeat conditions. We observe closely, noticing what changes, and what we are able to change. We prevent ourselves from falling into a dream-like life, and we prevent ourselves from living with addictions, which are simply repetitive behaviors that reliably make us feel better.
Repetition as refinement is a step towards lifting our energy of awareness, as long as we are able to see past our expectations of perfection. Rehearsing is for performance, and when we perform, we hold parts of our full self back, in order to best portray a role we take on, for the benefit of an audience that may or may not be watching.
What is true, and real, is un-repeatable. When we are our full selves, unconcerned with portraying and protecting an image, then we can fully enjoy the kind of perfection that is ever-changing, and ever-present. We consciously choose which actions and thoughts to repeat, to refine, so that we become expert in the skills we seek to hone.