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Read more about Habits from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

Nature of Habits

There is something in the being which clings desperately to its habits. The inner habits, the inner reactions, the inner way of seeing, the way of thinking, of directing one's action, it is this which refuses to change, which finds it so difficult to change. [1]

Habits that Form Identity

When a being is born upon earth, he is inevitably born in a certain country environment. In a set of social, cultural, national, sometimes religious circumstances, a set of habits of thinking, of understanding, of feeling, conceiving, all sorts of constructions which are at first mental, then become vital habits and finally material modes of being, which all have a collective conceptions of its own of which we are unaware. [2]

Social habits - one's consciousness is stuffed with them from the time when one were quite small; as a baby one is already told how something should or should not be done—these are ideas which usually parents or teachers have received in the same way when they were very young and to which they are accustomed and submit by habit; these are the most dangerous influences because they are subtle. [3]

Habits of One's Personality

We have a certain habit of a particular logic of causes and effects, of the consequences of all things, the relation between all movements. It is for us a fact which we accept, even without thinking about it, because we have always lived inside it. But if we had not always lived inside it, we would see it in another way. And one can make this experiment: if one goes out of the determinism of the world as it is at present—this world which is a mixture of the physical, vital, mental and of something of a spiritual influence or infusion (quite veiled), everything that happens is the combination of all this—if we go out of all that (we can do it), if we rise above the physical, material world as it is, and enter another consciousness, we perceive things totally differently. [4]

Storehouse of Habits: Subconscient

In the subconscient [submerged part of our being with no wakingly conscious and coherent thought, will or feeling or organized reaction] there is an obscure mind full of obstinate Sanskaras [imprints or habits], impressions, associations, fixed notions, habitual reactions formed by our past, an obscure vital full of the seeds of habitual desires, sensations and nervous reactions, a most obscure material which governs much that has to do with the condition of the body. [5]

They are all the imprints deep-rooted in the subconscient, the dirty habits one has and against which one struggles. All sorts of stupidities—they are there in the subconscient, deeply rooted. [6]

Why? The Need to Break from Grooves of Habits

One is free only when it is the Divine who makes decisions in each of us, otherwise men are the slaves of their desires, their habits, of all conventions, all laws, all rules. And the more they think themselves free, the more bound they are! [7]

To Get Rid of Habitual Surface Reactions

There are three occult sources of our action—the superconscient, the subliminal, the subconscient of which we are not aware. We are aware of is the surface being which is only an instrumental arrangement. The source of all is the general Nature,—universal Nature individualising itself in each person; for this general Nature deposits certain habits of movement, personality, character, faculties, dispositions, tendencies in us, and that, whether formed now or before our birth, is what we usually call ourselves.

But what we are on the surface is being constantly set in motion, changed, developed or repeated by the waves of the general Nature coming in on us either directly or else indirectly through others, through circumstances, through various agencies or channels. Some of this flows straight into the conscious part and acts there, but our mind ignores its source, appropriates it and regards all that as its own; a part comes secretly into the subconscient or sinks into it and waits for an opportunity of rising up into the conscious surface; a good deal goes into the subliminal and may at any time come out—or may not, may rather rest there as unused matter. [8]

But this is not so; one can change. There is another consciousness deeper within man - his true inner being, which is his real self, but is covered over by the superficial nature. [9]

To Discover the True Identity

One must go deep within oneself and discover that one does not exist. Only the Divine exists, and so long as you have not made that discovery, you cannot advance on the path. When one has made this discovery, one becomes aware that one was nothing but a bundle of habits. In everyone there are these hundreds and hundreds of "selves" who speak and in hundreds of completely different ways—"selves" unconscious, changing, fluid. The self which speaks today is not the same as yesterday's; and if you look further, the self has disappeared. There is only one who remains. That is the Divine. It is the only one that may be seen always the same. [10]

How to Improve Habits: Helpful Practices

In his physical consciousness the human being is always weak and unable to get rid of or resist its habitual movements. There are three things that help. First the psychic being; the second is the inner consciousness always awake. Lastly, the Mother's force always there and receiving also a response at once from the physical consciousness. These three things together can do anything. [11]

People who get angry, the habit of flying into a rage; one fights against that, refuses to get angry, rejects these vibrations of anger from one's being, but this must be replaced by an imperturbable calm, a perfect tolerance, an understanding of the point of view of others, a clear and tranquil vision, a calm decision—which is the positive side. [12]

The important thing is to get rid of the habit of the invasion of troubling thoughts, wrong feelings, confusion of ideas, unhappy movements. These disturb the nature and cloud it and make it more difficult for the Force to work; when the mind is quiet and at peace, the Force can work more easily. It should be possible to see things that have to be changed in you without being upset or depressed; the change is the more easily done. [13]

By Will Power

Begin with a small thing, a small detail. you insist on it with the same regularity, you see, either not to do it or to do it—you insist on it and compel yourself to do it. You make the same kind of effort, but it is more of an inner effort. After taking these and succeeding with them, you can unite with a greater force and try a more complicated experiment. And gradually, if you do this regularly, you will end up by acquiring an independent and very strong will. [14]

By Perseverance

When one wants to change something of the material life, whether the character or the functioning of the organs or habits, one must have an unfaltering perseverance, be ready to begin again a hundred times the same thing with the same intensity with which one did it the first time and as though one had never done it before. [15]

By Detachment

Detach means to stand back and refuse to look on the movement as his own (the soul's own) and look on it as a habit of past nature or an invasion of general Nature. [16]

By Surrender to Divine

Surrender means to consecrate everything in oneself to the Divine, to offer all one is and has, not to insist on one's ideas, desires, habits etc., and to allow the divine Truth to replace them by its knowledge, will and action everywhere. [17]

The method of detachment from the insistence of all mental and vital and physical claims and calls and impulsions, a concentration in the heart, austerity, self-purification and rejection of the old mind movements and life movements, rejection of the ego of desire, rejection of false needs and false habits, are all useful aids,but the strongest, is self-offering and surrender of ourselves and of our parts of nature to the Divine Being, the Ishwara. [18]

How to Change Different Parts of The Being?

The physical consciousness is full of inertia—it wants not to move but to be moved by whatever forces and that is its habit. This inertia has to be cured by putting it into contact with the right forces from above. To aspire for the higher wideness, purity and peace, so that that may occupy the physical and the true Force work instead of these invading ideas and impulses. [19]

The spirit of vital falsehood, dramatic and romantic, obscurs the reason and shuts out common sense and simple truth. To clear the vital, one must get out of it all compromise with falsehood—no matter how specious the reason it advances—and get the habit of simple straightforward psychic truth engraved in it so that nothing may have a chance to enter. [20]

One must have the habit of mental concentration. The habit of meditation, reflection, analysis, deduction, mental organisation. Otherwise, if one is just "like that", if one lives life as it comes, then it is exactly like a public square: there are roads and on the roads people pass by, and then you find yourself at cross-roads and it all passes through your head—sometimes even ideas without any connection between them. [21]

True Connection with Divine

The natural mind of man follows its own ideas, the vital clings to its own desires, the physical follows its own habits—these divide from the Divine. It is only when the psychic being grows and comes forward and governs and changes them that this veil of personal ideas, desires and habits can fall—then the direct relation and nearness grows in the being till the whole consciousness is united with the Divine. [22]

Read more about Habits from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.