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.

Trudy Goodman
14 September 2020
Photo by Lsteve Halama.

The habitual patterns that arise in us seem to have a life of their own, shaping our behavior into contours of isolation, anxiety, self-criticism, addiction, or other self-destructive habits. These patterns make us unhappy. They are obstacles to what we long for in our lives and might even cause us to give up our goals and dreams in despair.

The good news is that we can become aware of how we get caught in these patterns and learn to move through experience with more love and wisdom. The process of getting stuck in patterned thoughts and feelings happens quite mechanically. The gateway to freedom is to understand this compassionately. In this, meditation is our best friend, allowing us space to relax and receive other dimensions of our being.

The most fundamental pattern that we all have is ignoring impermanence—denying the fact that everything is always changing and can’t bring us lasting happiness. We humans imagine that the self is continuous and permanent, even though it isn’t and we aren’t!

Intellectually we know this, but it just doesn’t feel true. To quote the Anguttara Nikaya, “It seems that although we thought ourselves permanent, we are not. Although we thought ourselves settled, we are not. Although we thought we would last forever, we will not.”

This is where our mindfulness practice helps. Practicing meditation with loving awareness, we begin to see change as a constant. We see that we can’t breathe in forever—we have to breathe out. This inevitable rhythm is independent of what I want or who I am or what pattern has me in its grip. With mindful awareness, the ebb and flow of breath, the birth and death of experience, become clear. This is wisdom—seeing the way life unfolds so lovingly in us, as us.

Loving Connection

Mindfulness meditation is the backward step into simply being here together, appreciating this life, and sharing it with each other. Miraculously, this is the way to free our hearts from habitual patterns. We simply create moments of loving connection with ourselves, each other, and our world. How wonderful!

Sense the space all around you and the thoughts and feelings flowing through the mind and heart. Relax into the fullness of being.

Be 100 percent present with what is seen, heard, and felt. Then step back into the simple fact of this existence, this reality. Just be with this particular moment in all of eternity. And be with this next one, too.

When you notice attention has wandered into the past or future, shift your body back just an inch, relaxing into a posture of receptivity, poise, and balance.

Trudy Goodman

Trudy Goodman, PhD, is the founder and guiding teacher of InsightLA. She has practiced Zen and Vipassana meditation since 1974 and has trained extensively in psychotherapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction, which she taught with its creator, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. She was the co-founder of the original Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first center in the world dedicated to integrating these two disciplines. She teaches retreats and workshops nationwide.