Imagine if you woke up tomorrow morning and forgot about your most stubborn habit? Went to bed a nail biter, and woke up without the slightest urge to nibble! Or went to bed a procrastinator and woke up making snap decisions left and right. Not because you did anything to conquer your habit, just because you forgot. Clean as a whistle.
Now imagine if you could apply the same magical cure to a more destructive habit. A friend developed Alzheimer’s Disease. After being a heavy smoker for over 30 years, she woke up one morning and forgot that she was a smoker. She never smoked again. Her health improved in so many ways, and she became a very peaceful person. I wouldn’t wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, and after watching my grandfather suffer the humiliation of forgetting his own wife I am mindful of its damage. But my friend’s experience offers a beautiful reminder of the power of memory and the ability to develop inner peace while so much is changing inside and out.
Granted there are many downsides of losing your memory, but the upside is that you can enjoy things as if for the first time. You are fully present to the moment at hand. Life is so full of surprises when you approach life without assumptions. Imagine forgetting all your enemies and having no recollection of any complaints. That would be liberating. Imagine how fearless and focused you would be if you had absolutely no memory of your worries and limitations. You would live every moment with curiosity and intensity.
Memory is overrated and often inaccurate. Mark Twain once said, “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.” So much memory is built around a story that may have very little truth to it and may no longer be serving any purpose in your life. Take habits for example. You continue in the words of St Paul “to do the very thing you hate.” Why?
It’s time to change the auto responder on some of your memories and habits. Turn a habit into a choice by bathing it in the light of awareness, revealing its lies for what they are and moving beyond it.
Awareness is the mother of all choices. She is like a mother who leads her children to the brink of independence, then lets them go. Awareness can’t make the change for you, but it can remind you that you are stronger than any habit and so much larger than any circumstance.
There is a condition called “pleasant dementia” which up to 50% of people with dementia enjoy. The great American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson began to experience dementia in his 60’s. When a friend asked how he was, Emerson is reported to have said, "Quite well. I have lost my mental faculties but am perfectly well."
When I reach my twilight years, no matter what my mental state, I want to feel peaceful in body, mind and spirit. I will start preparing now – practicing peace. I will only give my memory so much power, and will give my awareness veto power to choose what serves me and makes the world a kinder place.
Emerson wrote the poem “Terminus” when he was 63.
Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.
I can’t help wondering if his late life peace grew out of many years of awareness and choice. It certainly can’t hurt. Check back in thirty years for an update.
Seed of Awareness
Awareness is the mother of all choices. She is like a mother who leads her children to the brink of independence, then lets them go. Awareness can’t make the change for you, but it can remind you that you are stronger than any habit and peaceful through all life’s changes.
Say to yourself: I inhale the precious breath of each moment; I have peace in body, mind, and spirit.