The Essential Guide to Working with Habitual Patterns

Essential Guide to Working With Habitual Patterns

Incessant worrying, self-defeating behaviors, addictions, and other unhealthy habits — why are we caught again and again in certain patterns, even when we know they’re not good for us? Buddhist practice helps us to see our habitual thoughts, emotions, and actions so that we can ultimately be free of them. In this guide, you’ll find insightful teachings to help you examine your own patterns and ease the hold they have over you.


Watering the Seeds of Happiness

Not all habits are bad. Happiness is a habit too, says Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Here’s how you can make it grow.

The Natural Liberation of Habits

When you recognize the true nature of mind, says Dzogchen master Tsoknyi Rinpoche, all habitual patterns are naturally liberated in the space of wisdom. That includes the ultimate habit known as samsara.

A Meditation to Befriend Your Feelings

How you relate to your feelings, says Willa Blythe Baker, may be the most important habit of all. When you meet your feelings with grace and mindfulness, you find they’re your best friends on the spiritual path.

Notice Craving and Aversion

To give yourself a fighting chance against negative patterns, says Josh Korda, you’ve got to get at the driving forces behind them.

Get to the Root of Your Patterns

Our basic problem, says Trudy Goodman, is ignoring the reality of impermanence. Being mindful in the moment, appreciating this flowing, interconnected life, we miraculously free ourselves from habitual patterns.

How to Free Yourself from the 7 Obsessions

To free ourselves from habitual patterns, says Valerie Mason-John, we need to see how they have become part of our identity.

From Getting Mad to Going Shopping: What’s Your Pattern?

Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein on 5 styles of habitual reaction—and how to find freedom from yours.

Buddhadharma - Summer '11 Joan Sutherland Zen habits awareness

Gaining Perspective on Habitual Patterns

When you’re caught in your habitual patterns, says Joan Sutherland, try not to fixate on your reactions. Instead cultivate awareness of everything that is happening in the moment.

Reconnecting With Ourselves

To heal our painful habits, we need to turn attention inward and reconnect with our experience through stillness, silence, and spaciousness.

Silencing the Inner Critic

The nagging, negative voice of self-judgement, says Christina Feldman, is a powerful affliction best met with courage, kindness, and understanding.

hook shenpa pema chodron Lion's Roar Buddhism Shambhala Sun

How We Get Hooked and How We Get Unhooked

Shenpa is the urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down. We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief. To get unhooked we begin by recognizing that moment of unease and learn to relax in that moment.