It is said that it takes at least three weeks to establish a pattern in our lives and another three weeks for it to become habitual. I know from experience that it takes a great long time to break habits.
For many years, I smoked cigarettes. Occasionally, I would smoke a pipe because I loved the rich smell of the tobacco. (I still do) Several years ago, after an extended period of not smoking at all, I started smoking cigars, and became somewhat of a connoisseur.
During my teens, when I began smoking, I also began using (and eventually abusing) alcohol and non-prescription drugs. As a musician, I felt it was necessary as part of my “image” to fit the stereotype.
Over time, my habits became addictions, and the struggle to break free began.
Today, I have eliminated many of my addictive habits from my life, and can live quite well without them. I still love coffee and chocolate, but compared to some things I have ingested, those are pretty mild.
One habit I have tried to establish is a more active lifestyle in order to lose weight and lower my blood pressure as well as reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. I have always enjoyed cycling and hiking, but this year I attempted to do more of each. I think the cycling has worked out relatively well, having logged nearly a thousand kilometres (over six hundred miles) on the Devinci. While that is far less than I had the opportunity to ride, it is still exponentially more than ever before in my adult life, and I still have at least another month and a half before the weather becomes prohibitive. I have lost about seven kilograms (fifteen pounds) and appear much trimmer. Again, I could have done better, but there were days when the heat and humidity would have made such activity more stupid than admirable.
As well, I have returned to playing my drums as a means of financial support and mental/Spiritual therapy. Drumming it seems, is always who I have been so to speak. But to go from a four year total hiatus to performing at least once a week, has placed demands on my body that surprised me. Even minimal effort now causes muscle fatigue and soreness. For that reason, I have taken time away from cycling to partake in some practice in order to rebuild my former strength and speed. I also carry fewer drums with me due to restricted vehicle space, so I’ve had to rethink my playing style. This too required actual physical practice to make sure my ideas could be executed onstage.
Some habits are formed from compulsion as well. Today, I got up, caffeinated my brain into some semblance of functioning activity, and then moved the coffee table, rolled out my mat and did Yoga for the first time in over a year. Now, I am sipping green tea that has steeped in a terracotta teapot that at one time used to seem glued to my hand.
The Yoga and tea are two things I hope to re-establish as habits in my life. I need twenty more days to establish the pattern, then another twenty one days to make it a habit.
Can I do it?