Forgive me if the title makes this sound as if I am pushing a rah-rah sort of “choose and act” agenda, because I am not. I actually think we do way too much, always planning, going, doing, pursuing, in the way that the conscious mind loves because it likes to feel useful. In this society where we venerate the gifts of the conscious mind (which is really just a small fraction of the total mind), anything that does not involve goals and achievement is poo-poo’ed. What this constant pursuit really is, is distraction. Goals and achievement are the sugar high of this life, and can feel so fleetingly good that we continue to pursue them hoping that if we just get the right achievement that the high will last. But it never does.
The choices associated with “doing”, achieving, and the like, as important as they seem for building a life in this society, can keep your attention focused away from the deeper choices available to you in the integrated realm your fuller self, of mind, body, spirit. Mind, in this triad, is not the conscious mind, though the conscious mind is a part of the larger mind. We’ve been taught, with phrases like “mind over manner” to believe that the mind, and specifically the conscious mind, runs the show. But the conscious mind has a specific, limited skill set, and that is to think in the logic dictated by the reality around you, to set an agenda and goals and objectives based on that reality, and to live for the sugar high of achievement. When you live your life as if this hamster wheel of mind is the only avenue to reality, then you will always pursue choices that distract you from the ones that really feed and sustain you.
These deeper options come not from the noisy-ness and the busy-ness of the conscious mind, but arise quietly from the currents of the other parts of mind, as well as body and spirit. The choices they present are not made in the active sense as much as they are fallen into, like a cushion or a viper pit, when you hit bottom or simply exhaust all other options, or, if you are attentive to the quieter, deeper currents, they may nudge you gently into knowing or at least into being open to knowing. Far too often, people opt for exhausting themselves along with all the options before falling into the quiet wisdom of the deeper realms. In part because those realms lack the drama of the sugar high, and are more like the quiet contentment of a warm bowl of soup; but also because we as a culture are trained away from valuing this more integrated way of being.
Luckily, the hamster wheel can provide big clues to the areas of your life that you might be distracting yourself most in. If you are driving yourself ragged in a 40 (or 60 or 80) hour workweek, are you not seeing that your deeper realms may be calling you to live on a different sort of schedule; if you are exhausting yourself by training for yet another marathon or triathlon, are you ignoring your body’s call for a different sort of relationship and a new sort of nurturing. Often what you are most distracting yourself with is the area or areas that you are least willing to allow yourself to sink into, to tap into that deeper knowing, to live out of the whole of who you are rather than the sugar high of what you have been taught to be.
What are you not choosing by making the conscious choices that you do?