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  Opinion   Oped  16 May 2018  Mystic Mantra: Drop that habit!

Mystic Mantra: Drop that habit!

Swami Tejomayananda, Chinmaya Mission Worldwide, is an orator, poet, singer, composer and storyteller. To find out more about Chinmaya Mission and Swamiji, visit
Published : May 16, 2018, 1:15 am IST
Updated : May 16, 2018, 1:15 am IST

A young man wishing to change his bad habits joined a band of sadhus.

(Representational image)
 (Representational image)

In life, at some time or the other, inadvertently, we fall into wrong habits. These could be either at the physical, mental or intellectual level. Intrinsically, we know that they are not good for us, but are helpless under their sway. Unable to let go, we become enslaved.

Wrong habits are not easy to deal with or give up. The mind is not ready to listen even when it is something as simple as waking up an hour earlier every day. One day, with great enthusiasm, we decide to set the alarm for 5am so that there is enough time to exercise and meditate before getting ready for the day. The first day the alarm goes off, a hand reaches out sleepily to turn it off. The mind says, “Let me sleep a few minutes more.” The story is repeated for a week and by then the mind is convinced that it is perfectly fine not to wake up early. In this case, tamasic actions dictated a sattvic vision and an opportunity to transform was lost.

Formed slowly over the years, sometimes lifetimes, for a variety of reasons, wrong habits are difficult to remove. Even though we want to give them up, we are powerless under their compelling influence. The problem is that we shirk our responsibilities; we do not perform our obligatory duties either at home or at work and allow wrong habits to form. Once a sapling grows into a tree and takes firm roots, the tree is not easy to cut down.

Three main reasons for the formation of wrong habits are: the desire to please others, peer pressure and the inability to say, “No”. Each incorrect action starts from one of the above motives. Despite wanting to be free of the habit, we are thwarted by deep-rooted, past impressions.

A young man wishing to change his bad habits joined a band of sadhus. Soon after, strange things began to happen. Every day, the sadhus awoke to discover the blanket of one person was lying with another; the plate of one would be found somewhere else and so on.

One night, they decided to stay awake to uncover the mystery. In the middle of the night, they saw the young man wake up. He then began to shift their belongings. On being confronted, he confessed to being a thief. He had joined the ashram because he wanted to reform. However, every night at 2am, he still experienced a strong urge to steal. So he did pick up the articles, but instead of taking them, placed them elsewhere.

This is the first step towards eliminating a bad habit, substitute it with a less harmful one. Persistence and determination are the cornerstones of transformation.

If we are strong-willed, we can emerge victorious.

Tags: wrong habits, bad habits