My mind often drifts down these unmethodical rabbit holes. Sometimes I come out with a new thought, sometimes I confuse myself further. And, although, I believe, thoughts are never ending (since new information can always change its course), I like to pin them down long enough to write about them…before they begin to shift again.
Today’s post may not make sense, or maybe it will make sense of something out there…but here it is.
When we make a choice, we are often presented with several options to factor into our decision-making process – do you want soup or salad? Would like the window or the aisle seat? These are trivial examples, of course.
Sometimes we have a selection of two courses of action (like the ones above), laying out two simple possible paths. In other instances, we have dozens of possibilities, requiring us to take some time to evaluate each potential outcome (which, in and of itself would consist of a series of additional choices, but let’s not go there). But at the end of the day, the choices we make are based on the options (and paths) we perceive are available to us.
Which, to me, begs the question “are we limiting ourselves of other options?” And, perhaps, more importantly, “what is driving the final decisions?”
Our minds have been conditioned to follow specific paths and patterns to arrive at what we have deemed to be the best case scenario for our individual well-being. This rigid way of thinking is through no fault of our own, it is what we have been taught throughout our lives. But what if there were other paths, that we didn’t even know existed that we could follow or even create?
Are you still with me? I feel like I’m starting to sound like a mad scientist explaining a new theory haha….but anywho…
Examples Of The Physical
On a physical level, why does something hurt? Who or what made the determination that certain sensations are painful vs pleasurable?
In yoga (yes, you knew the references were coming sooner or later), if you extend your legs out in front of you, for instance, the initial feeling may be confrontational; a combination of pain and discomfort. But these sensations only exist because we believe them. We believe them because we have defined, in our minds, what brings pain and what brings pleasure.
So before even attempting the stretch, you have already decided that this is going to hurt. And to take it a step further, that knowledge of impending pain results in the fear to attempt that stretch. We brace ourselves for the prospect of the pain a simple stretch may inflict, already setting ourselves up for it before even moving.
But the decision to define something already exists in our minds. We’re conditioned to weigh our options, and we’ve been programmed with all of the potential outcomes available to reach what we believe is the end result.
Now, to insert a quote that also serves as a disclaimer:
“Fear is not real, it is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” ~ Will Smith.
So, you shouldn’t stretch your legs behind your head without proper conditioning, that may be dangerous for your muscles and hamstrings. But it doesn’t mean you cannot achieve that outcome.
What’s Your Point, Alice?
What I’m trying to say is, you have a choice in each and every thought and action every day of your life. And I don’t mean the generic, pre-prescribed scenarios we believe are possible based on what we’ve been taught. I’m talking far beyond what some of us may even begin to understand. And I’m not saying I fully understand myself, I’m just scratching the surface.
Alice – All this jibber jabber, but I can’t control what options are on the menu at a restaurant, nor can I live my life evaluating each thought and move to determine if I’m limiting myself or not?
And you shouldn’t! I’m a firm believer that our purpose and all of the answers we seek are found within our hearts. Our minds are racing with a million thoughts from things we’ve read, heard, watched, or subconsciously received. When we silence that “noise” in our minds, we tap into our hearts, and make decisions based on love, not “facts”. We can even change the course of a path, by letting go of the first definition we gave it, and creating a new one.
So, going back to that stretch example – you have your legs extended out, and your body is leaning over them, reaching for your toes. Things hurt, sure they do. But why does it hurt? Because we’ve defined and accepted the pain.
So for a moment, clear your mind. Let go of the idea of pain. Pain is only energy defined as such. If you shift that perspective to something else, such as “oh, this is an enjoyable stretch” or “that ‘sensation’ is just proof that an opportunity exists to extend further. If there is no pain, there is no room left to stretch (grow).” Then you will begin tapping into other paths and possibilities, even if for a split second.
But then, like a rubber band, your mind snaps back to your “reality”; the one it’s been conditioned to follow. But that’s OK! The mental effort takes practice and consistency, like anything in life.
This is why it’s important to practice something every day. The more you practice the more you create and open up a new path. You are visualizing a new reality and working towards it. And in that practice, your physical world is aligning with your mental: you want to touch your toes (mental) you practice reaching for your toes every day (physical). Until you unlock that pathway in your brain.
“There is a huge difference between wanting to change and being willing to change. Almost everyone wants to change for the better. Very few are willing to take the steps necessary to create that change.” ~ John T. Child
I’m sorry if you were expecting a much more straight forward approach to re-conditioning the definitions and paths of your mind. But once you have a rigid way of thinking, it is difficult to change. You have to practice, every day.
Now, I’ve used yoga and stretching your legs as an example, I do hope you know that it also serves as a metaphor for anything you need it be. Go back and read the post, and replace the legs and stretching with a different noun and verb.
So, my point is…
No, but seriously, my point is we shouldn’t cling to definitions. Life is constantly changing; our thoughts are continuously evolving and definitions simply restrict them. Once we feel we grasp a concept, something changes. We often resist this change because we feel we have worked so hard to arrive at the destination.
Although I always use yoga as a metaphor, I do believe it is a practice that has allowed me to understand this on a much deeper level. In those quiet moments of my yoga practice, my thoughts are silenced and I am able to reach inside to tap into those paths my heart creates.
Be open to change, be open to uncertainty and whatever your “yoga” is, follow it. Think different, and choose the path your heart believes in.
I hope this all made as much sense on here as it does in my mind. 🙂