Apr 4, 2009

Breaking bad habits

During the course of making tea for Christy sensei, she pointed out a bad habit I have when I fold my fukusa. I didn't even realize that I was doing it. She stopped me in the middle of folding it and asked me if I knew why she stopped me. I had no idea and she said that it must be a habit if I am unaware of it. She then proceeded to demonstrate what I do and I was appalled at how sloppy it looked. From then on, I was conscious of making sure I did NOT do it when I fold the fukusa.

The first step in breaking a bad habit is becoming aware it is a habit. We cannot see ourselves so it is a good thing to have someone point these bad habits out. The problem is that honest feedback seems so impolite in the tea room. To overcome this, the intention of giving the feedback has to be clean and it must be pointed out in a loving way. I am grateful to sensei that she is paying attention to what I do and is honest with me to help me improve.

We train our bodies so that we can do the movements of temae with an empty mind. And if we train our bodies to do something, it will faithfully reproduce what we have trained it to do; it becomes a habit. Somewhere along the way, I had trained my body into a bad habit and I did it without realizing that I was doing it. They say that it takes a minimum of doing something 32 times before it becomes a habit. So the second step once we become aware is to consciously do it correctly for a minimum of 32 times.

Christy also suggested that I examine what it was that made me initiate the bad habit in the first place. For something as basic as folding the fukusa, I know the correct way to fold it, but something triggered a change and I kept repeating it until I became unaware of it. By examining the trigger, it will help me break the bad habit as I re-train my body to do it again correctly.


  1. What a wonderful post!
    We are always fortunate when we find a friend that is kind enough to let us know our faults.

    Thanks for sharing this Margie!

  2. Jordan,

    I will be at Ryokusuido for the kimono sale today and tomorrow if you're out and about. I invite you and your family to stop by for tea.


  3. Margie,

    Thank you for the invitation, unfortunately I am flying my desk at work this weekend. I hope I can I get a rain check, I think the family would really enjoy that.