Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Making Conscious Choices

When we practice meditation, we usually have an object that we pay attention to in order to stabilize the mind and become more present. In vipassana or Zen practice, the primary object is usually the feeling of the body breathing itself. In other forms of meditation, the primary object might be a mantra (a sound repeated silently or aloud), a candle flame, or the picture of a deity.

No matter what the object is, the practice always involves making a choice to return back to it whenever the mind wanders. At any moment there are countless things we could pay attention to, but in this case we are making the choice to pay attention to only one at thing a time. 

This kind of conscious choice-making is an important component of meditation practice which can also carry over into our daily life off the cushion. We may not be aware of it, but we are constantly making choices in our life. Some choices are made consciously, and some unconsciously. Each choice we make, however, brings with it a result, what is sometimes called "karma." Therefore, we need to bring as much consciousness as possible to the choices we make.

We may think we have no choices in some situations, but this is probably because we have become conditioned to reacting in a certain way toward the things that happen to us. The truth is that we always have choices in how we relate to the stimuli in our world. When we stop for a moment, and reflect on how to respond to a situation, rather than reacting automatically, we can begin to free ourselves from feeling trapped and choiceless.

From The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra:
Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening to you at this moment is a result of the choices you've made in the past. Unfortunately, a lot of us make choices unconsciously, and therefore we don't think they are choices - and yet, they are...
If you step back for a moment and witness the choices you are making as you make those choices, then in just this act of witnessing, you take the whole process from the unconscious realm into the conscious realm. This procedure of conscious choice-making and witnessing is very empowering.
When you make any choice - any choice at all - you can ask yourself two things: First of all, "What are the consequences of this choice that I'm making?" In your heart you will immediately know what these are. Secondly, "Will this choice that I'm making now bring happiness to me and to those around me?" If the answer is yes, then go ahead with that choice. If the answer is no, if that choice brings distress either to you or to those around you, then don't make that choice. It's as simple as that. 

No comments:

Post a Comment