Changing and choosing
How much do we hold our ground when the world suddenly shifts around us?
When we are confused, resistant to change, then we lean heavily on our habits, the patterns we feel comfort and control, even when they lead to the boredom that creates an inner demand for novelty, for variety, for some unreliable changes. When we fluctuate back and forth between reaching out for random changes, and drawing back into habitual patterns, we create a self-sustaining cycle of boredom and over-excitement, never finding the inner equanimity we need to ride out the changes of the world around us.
The best balance is when we can find consistency, curiosity, and consciousness in our inner life and actions.
There is an art to holding ground, and we can see it in nature: plants and trees root deeply and are yet exquisitely responsive to the world. You can see in their growth the way that leaves reach for the sun, pulling the branches along for support; how the truck holds firmly to hold the weight of flowers upwards while roots reach directly downwards towards earth’s center.
We can act in this way, reaching towards the light while firmly rooted in our own center, both physically in our center of gravity through breath and bandhas but also in mental focus and consistency between actions and principles.
This balance is most challenged when the environment changes suddenly: we find ourselves resisting, holding on to memories of the way things were, the way that we were, attaching ourselves to a past version that wouldn’t work in the present moment. We get caught in hopes and expectations for the changes we want, resentment for the changes we have, rather than gratitude for flexibility and freedom.
We do not feel free unless we flex the ability to make choices.
That freedom to choose can sometimes feel like a burden, and other times a privilege, or an illusion. Any of these feelings take away from the free-feeling of will, which is debilitating. We can’t bear the opposite ideas: that we are automatons programmed to receive and respond to stimuli.
Even though the ideas of destiny, divine intervention, meant-to-be-ness are so charming, something in us requires the sense of free will, of agency in our own lives, of the ability to steer ship in the storm. We want the energy of our mind to matter. Especially when we are looking at “big” decisions.
Why do some decisions feel big? There are too many variables, too many unknowns— then we find ourselves in the confusion and reliance on habits that cycle us around, indecisive, wasting time and energy in mental machinations: weighing options, predicting, planning, just-in-casing.
When we pour our mental energy in choices, we limit ourselves. Time becomes cut into schedulable boxes, space is divided and measured, we busy ourselves with the little things that prevent us from feeling the big feelings.
Unwinding the mind allows us to feel the big feelings, to be occasionally overwhelmed, which is the only way to respond to big changes: to feel, to root, to reach towards the direction of change. When we let go, we find freedom without over-analytic choosing, a liberty of energy.
That liberation of energy empowers the will, the inner sense of center strength. We make choices easily, guided by the innate desire to enjoy the changes of life.