Episode 25: Habit Formation and Goal Setting – Recovery, Discipline, and the Way to Mastery

Episode 25:
habit formation and goal setting
recovery, discipline, and the way to mastery

Our habits are powerful. But an addict in recovery hardly needs convincing of that. Our habits shaped our experience for years; an unrelenting force that caused considerable damage in our lives.

As you undoubtedly know by now, practice is the core of the Integral Recovery model. But beginning and sustaining the four-fold practice can be a difficult transition unless we engage the very force that once held us back: our habits.

The cultivation of positive habits takes a lot of work, at least in the beginning. Getting ourselves to wake up early, to take a break from our over-packed schedules for meditation, or to voluntarily engage in the sweat-drenched exertion of intense physical exercise takes a great deal of willpower. It’s easier to hit the snooze button, stay on the sofa, and scroll through our phones, where the immediate effort required is low, and the rewards are (seemingly) high.

Fortunately, the science of habit formation has made tremendous strides in the past several years, and we can use this research to help us on our journey as we build our Integral cross-training practice. With a little bit of grit, we can use our limited supply of willpower to form new habits.

The simple formula that governs our habits, as outlined by Charles Duhigg in his excellent book, The Power of Habit, is:

1) Cue
2) Routine
3) Reward

This process, even if we didn’t always know it by name, will be intimately familiar to the addict. Our cues or triggers, whether events, times of day, people, sights, sounds, or feelings, exerted a powerful pull that drove us toward our behavior. Why? Because we knew that engaging that behavior would trigger a reward – the rush of neurochemicals offering stimulation or relief, relaxation, or whatever state experience we craved.

Using this knowledge in recovery, we can craft a different series of cues, routines, and rewards that enable us to build a robust Integral cross-training practice that develops our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits.

And once these habits are successfully installed, they become nearly automatic. And over the years, though we hardly recognize the day-today changes within ourselves, we continue to make progress, eventually reaching new heights and levels of performance, health, and self-mastery that we had previously believed were impossible.

Designing an Integral practice can feel formidable, but we don’t have to do it alone. By studying the work of those who’ve come before, we stand on the shoulders of giants who can inspire us and help us avoid the pitfalls that would derail us from our path.

But the masters aren’t our only guides. We learn just as much from one another as the Integral Recovery community boldly blazes this new trail. Moving forward together, with accountability, encouragement, and support, we can use our past struggles as a profound opportunity for growth and transformation.

In today’s episode of the Journey of Integral Recovery, the team shares their own strategies for habit formation, as well as a few unique and unexpected twists including gamification and classical conditioning to motivate behavior change and have fun in the process. Perhaps most importantly of all, we discuss learning to allow some flexibility, grace, and intuitive guidance into the process as we continue our ascent to higher levels of being, greater states of awareness, and more profound connection with ourselves and the world.

Episode Resources:
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY series in Integral Theory)
Profound Meditation Program
Stealing Flow: Complete Brainwave Suite for Flow State Mastery (by iAwake Technologies and Douglas Prater)
Deep Recovery – a guided meditation from iAwake Technologies

In this episode:

[1:39] A brief review of the integral map – what are the four quadrants?
[2:55] What are “lines” in Integral theory, and how do the multiple intelligences relate to practice, recovery, development, and growth? What are the four essential lines, and why do we need to include practices for the body, the mind, the spirit, and the emotions/shadow?
[3:55] What are states, and how are they relevant to integral theory and integral recovery practice? How does an experiential knowledge of states and our familiarity with state-chasing lead us to freedom from addiction? How can learning to manage our states help us prevent relapse?
[4:55] What are the stages of development? Are stages of recovery different than stages of development?
[5:29] What are “types” in the AQAL model, and why does an understanding of various typologies, like the enneagram, Myers Briggs, masculine/feminine, and others need to be included as a part of the Integral Recovery model?
[7:27] How we bring Integral cross-training from theory into practice, and why this shift is critical to our continued evolution
[8:52] Why an intellectual understanding is valuable in addition to practice, and how our evolution through the developmental levels can inadvertently cut us off from intellectual knowledge when we reach the post-modern level
[9:41] How using the map helps us transcend our natural limitations, inclinations, and tendencies to focus on a holistic system for self-growth
[10:22] What does a practice look like? The use of a calendar and schedule to track our progress – when this is valuable, and when it’s a limitation. How to keep ourselves accountable for the dimensions of practice we’re neglecting.
[12:17] What’s involved with creative practice, and how does creative practice integrate the other dimensions of practice
[15:05] How the consistency of practice helps us solidify our memories and improve our skills. Finding freedom through discipline, and how tracking our habits and behaviors keeps us moving in the right direction to guild mastery. Gamification and habit tracking, and the feeling of satisfaction and rebuilding damaged self-esteem that comes with regular practice.
[17:38] The connection between willpower and habits, and why it’s important to use our finite supply of willpower to build the right habits
[18:38] How mindfulness helps us become aware of what we’re avoiding and why we’re avoiding it.
[19:12] The “habit strength” build through repetition and routine, why iAwake and brainwave entrainment help build a solid ritual around meditation practice.
[21:02] The habit loop of cue, routine, and reward – how to make our habits automatic and create powerful long-term behavioral change
[23:53] The importance of flexibility and the freedom to follow our intuitions, and why allowing ourselves to go in a different direction can be a pathway to grace with our practice as we pay attention to the muse
[25:23] How Angela Duckworth’s research on grit – the heroic stick-to-it-iveness of staying with something long enough for long-term results, factors into the development of habits and the benefits we get from them
[26:46] Rolling with the punches, recovering from setbacks, and having the passion and commitment to stay focused on our goals when things get difficult
[27:37] Using gamification and small reinforcements to motivate us on our path. How Bob and Doug have implemented gamification into their practices, and the importance of breaking large tasks into small, manageable steps
[30:15] A comical use of classical conditioning and using rewards to encourage the pursuit of challenging behavioral tasks
[31:15] The accidental Pomodoro, and the importance of the alternating periods of intense work with periods of rest and enjoyable activities
[32:00] Stealing Flow and the Pomodoro method, and how the program was designed to naturally promote and work with our natural cycles of intense work and rest
[33:30] The wisdom of William James regarding the continued discipline and pursuit of mastery in any endeavor. How continued practice and “doing the work” can lead us to the top of any field.
[35:21] The power of imitation and studying the masters of anything we wish to master and improve in
[36:38] How providing examples through sharing our stories can motivate and inspire others, as well as helping us work through our own blocks.
[37:10] Why learning from, studying, and imitating those have succeeded allows us to improve faster and reach further by standing on the shoulders of giants.
[39:49] How blazing the trail for others through our pursuit of Integral cross-training can benefit the world and the next generation


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