Caroline Myss April 2013
Theological discussions often take shape around exploring the difference between an ordinary understanding of a single word and imagining how that same word would be interpreted by the soul. For example, the word, habitus, is Latin for habits of behavior and routines. All individuals have a host of certain habits that bring order to their physical life. I have a cup of coffee in the morning and watch the news, for example. And then I check my email. There was a time when I just had coffee and watched the news – that was pre-email. Email is the new addition to my decades old routine. Then I hit the shower and then the office. And so the day goes.
We all have our routines that we occasionally vary but routines – habits – are anchors or locators for us. They keep chaos at bay, as much as any person can negotiate with the forces of chaos. Our habits are also projections of our lifestyle: I am a runner; I only eat organic; I attend church services every Sunday; I walk every morning; I read every evening after dinner; I nap every day at 4:00 pm; I start drinking every day at 5:00 pm. Our physical habits are stop and go signs for the people around us who have to learn to maneuver their lives around our firmly implanted carefully regulated routines.
Much about our physical habits are matters of choice and adaptation. We can change these habits at will, although I will grant that breaking some of these habits requires a great deal of support. Obviously breaking free of the habits of drugs, gambling, alcohol, lying, and being a con-artist is not something a person is likely to do alone, but those dark habits can be broken.
What all of these habits have in common is that they are moveable. They order your world and yet they can be changed, altered, or removed from your life completely at will. Other habits can be introduced anywhere along the line.
Habitus Maximus, on the other hand, refers to the “great habits of your heart/soul”. These are habits that are not consciously chosen by you as such but are awakened from within by circumstances or learned behavior. These are the guiding habits that if maintained lead you to become a congruent or whole human being. I could add “spiritually conscious” but the pursuit of the spiritual is an option, a personal choice. Habitus maximus are the habits of “who you really are by God’s design.” Whereas physical habits bring order to your life, the habits of your heart bring order to you as a human being. They are patterns of behavior inherent to your soul’s nature that become animated through discourse with adults during your childhood, or through witnessing a situation that caused a moment of identification, or by being a participant in a situation that became an awakening. Lucky for you I already planned to provide examples of all these three.