Awakening to Choice

In the previous post we looked at finding magical moments of mindfulness in the middle of everything. I offered examples of how to come fully into whatever moment you’re in and the joys to be found there.

But there’s even more magic in being fully present. In each moment of mindfulness we can recognize that this is a pivotal point in our lives. This puts us in a position of personal power because we can see that we have a choice. We are not stuck in a rut or being dragged along by the currents of life. We are here and now, awake, alive, aware.

Not all our choices are beneficial. In each moment we can, for example:

  • let craving drive us in a habitual direction of unskillfulness that promises happiness but causes misery
  • let aversion judge ourselves or others harshly so that we feel angry and beaten down and cause others to feel the same

OR

See that pivot point there, that >>>>>OR<<<<< ?

It’s the little word of wisdom that offers us options to our habituated and often destructive behavior. It reminds us that we can choose to be fully present in this moment just as it is and greet the arising of the next moment with wise intention.

The first time I noticed that ‘or’ I was trodding a well-worn path to my refrigerator, that altar of delights for my taste buds and solace for whatever was ailing me. I was on a mindless habituated trek when I heard the word ‘or’. My inner wisdom was offering me an option to this pattern of mindlessness and self-destructive behavior. It said, ‘Or…I could take a walk in the garden.’ ‘Or…I could call a friend.’ ‘Or…’

You get the idea. There were so many choices that I could make if I paused to notice that I wasn’t hungry, just bored or sad or who knows what in that moment. My go-to answer was to follow a craving. In that moment I was suddenly present.  Being present, a world of choices opened to me.

Where in your life do you typically go mindless and end up following the lure of a craving or being caught up in aversion, stewing over something or someone? Are there any instances when you suddenly saw that you had other options?

We are all mindless at times. As we practice being more present in the moment, we discover how easy it is to slip into mindlessness again. The opportunities are all there: the cravings, the emotions, the judgments. But as we stay present we can see there are other opportunities offering themselves to us: to notice and follow our wisest intention to be present, aware and filled with compassion for ourselves and all beings. Living fully in this moment, our wise intention will naturally carry us to the next moment.

Each moment of awareness is a pivotal moment, but that doesn’t mean that we are constantly standing at a crossroads, wondering which way our future lies. That would cause us to fall out of mindfulness. There are times when considering the future is valuable, like preparing ourselves and our families to handle potentially volatile conditions. But most of the time future leaning causes imbalance in our lives, leaves us unavailable to see or hear what is happening right now. And that mindlessness will likely lead us to a future we never wanted, because we won’t have been present and engaged with life, so we become increasingly isolated and unskillful.

The power is here in the present, fully experienced with all the senses, as we learn again and again how to grow in awareness and compassion, right where we are in this moment, just as it is.

6 thoughts on “Awakening to Choice

  1. Bill Wickliffe

    Great post Stephanie. I just got home from my first multi day retreat and have been noticing myself already slipping from the mindfulness I lived with while on retreat. With a slight pause, I’m finding myself once again becoming present.
    Wow.. Training that mind!

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  2. Stephanie Noble Post author

    Congratulations on going on a retreat, Bill. Excellent noticing of slipping into mindlessness and pausing to become present. Hopefully with great compassion! May any insights you had on the retreat continue to shine bright within you, supporting you when the whirl of the world throws you off balance. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. HMarie

    The other day I was experiencing a sh*tstorm of messing up, it seemed. Unskillfulness, forgetting, left and right. The pièce de résistance was leaving my purse at Sol Food (they stashed it away for me, I got it back intact)! “Idiot!” I screamed out loud to no one in particular while stomping back to my car, but it was aimed at me. Suddenly I thought, “The universe is sure giving me a lot of chances to practice self-compassion today!” That was so hokey, it made me smile. But it also broke my self-denigrating trance.

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  4. Starr

    THIS right here, IS exactly what I needed to read.
    desires/aversions have caused me so much suffering and THEY ARE FROM my creation!
    I truly believe being conscious, awake, and aware happens in the MOMENT. IT is a choice.
    PAUSING to acknowledge the “OR” I think helps me be more intentional about the direction/the choice I AM about to take, which WE know creates our reality. I loved reading this. So simple, so powerful. I think the MAGIC is in the simple, because we already KNOW deep within, but it’s this information that helps us to re-member/ awake. WE are all GURUS.

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