Maybe in our teenage years, we were a nerd at school, and we see those rebel kids outside smoking and we think, “Hey, I want to be cool.” So we start smoking. The Marlboro Man wasn’t a dork, and that was no accident.See cool, smoke to be cool, feel good. Repeat.Trigger, behavior, reward. And each time we do this, we learn to repeat the process and it becomes a habit. So later, feeling stressed out triggers that urge to smoke a cigarette or to eat something sweet.
Now, with these same brain processes, we’ve gone from learning to survive to literally killing ourselves with these habits. Obesity and smoking are among the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the world.
So back to my breath. What if instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention, we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process…but added a twist? What if instead we just got really curious about what was happening in our momentary experience?