Image credit: Hartwig HKD
DOES IT SUPPORT YOUR NATURE?
I grew up in a house full of chocolate lovers. My dad was the main catalyst in this desire, encouraging me, my mother and my two sisters to choose something chocolate any time dessert was an option, be it in the form of ice cream, cake, pudding or cookies.
Until my mid-teens, I was convinced that chocolate was the best choice for me in any range of desserts. After all, it is what I was taught, encouraged and knew. In a Pavlovian way, whenever I saw chocolate, my mouth started to salivate. I was convinced I wanted some!
But with puberty, I was given an opportunity to learn to perceive differently and make choices that honoured my more authentic nature. As hormones ran through my veins and my body grew in new ways, I also developed debilitating migraine headaches that would leave me sick and bedridden for days.
The doctor told me that I needed to stop eating certain foods that were well-known migraine triggers, one of which was chocolate. I thought my world had ended. In some ways, it had; and as it did, a whole new one opened up.
Life with my family became an opportunity to grow into my own choices. It was clear to me intellectually that chocolate was not good for me. I did my best to white-knuckle the temptation that seemed to grip me, only to find myself giving in from time to time and getting sick again. Eventually, however, what I once understood as mere medical advice arose as a willing directive from within me. Chocolate was not good for me, so I did not want to choose it anymore.
With new understanding now resonant in my cells, I was able to perceive chocolate differently. It no longer seemed to call at me, beckon me, and weaken my will. Instead, it became a potent reminder for a young teenager, of the power of choice. I began to see all chocolate as poison, rather than delight. I knew it would make me sick, just as poison does. I very quickly lost all desire for it. What once was a tough choice because of my conditioning, became an easy one because of my willingness to make different choices and understand the situation clearly.
AT FIRST, CHOICE IS EFFORT
In today’s busy digital world, we simultaneously face a wider range of choices than ever before, yet may feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of it all. In truth, we have never had a better opportunity to put into practice the power of our free will. We may convince ourselves that we don’t have a choice in a given situation. We may feel, for example, that we need to stay in a job or a relationship that feels empty and unfulfilling, because we feel we have no other options. But not doing anything about feeling unhappy is a choice in itself.
As I shared in my Being In the Wake of Violence series, no matter where we are, or what we are doing, we do have the choice in how we react to what life brings. The idea of having choice can feel uncomfortable to anyone who is attached to feeling like a victim. But life is never happening to us. Everything we experience is the result of choices we have made in the past, our previous karmic tendencies. What we think and believe affects how we perceive, which determines how we act, which in turn creates the trajectory of our lives.
Our state of awareness is in constant co-creation with the moment, which manifests our experience of being alive. When we perceive that life is happening to us, we limit our field of awareness. When we believe that our source of power is outside of us, we give away our ability to make choices.
But when we see that we are in constant co-creation with life, that whatever life brings is grace, we become receptive to this moment as it is. We awaken to greater possibilities. We move beyond limiting beliefs and habits, and begin to make choices that support the light of our nature. Such choices always feel rooted, vital and expansive. But they may not always feel easy.
At first, making healthy choices can feel difficult. That is because the habits that do not support our greater good have momentum. We likely have invested energy in them for some time, often lifetimes. They keep moving in a certain direction, while we go along in auto-pilot.
Once we are fed up with feeling lousy about our lives or ourselves, we become willing to make changes. When we are willing to make better choices and soberly realize that we have some habits to overcome, we do need to apply some effort. It takes willpower to not get up in the middle of the night and go to the fridge for a piece of chocolate cake, or to not bring it home at all!
The same applies for other habitual choices we may have that pull us away from our true nature, such as shopping beyond what we can afford, watching TV when we would be best to socialize, study or tune into what we feel, or compulsively checking our phones to see, ultimately, if we are loved; or even deeper issues such as losing our temper, procrastination, self-judgment, getting involved in unhealthy relationships or acting in ways that pollute the planet.
Next week, in preparation for Earth Day, I will look at these in more depth, as we continue to explore How To Choose The Light Of Your True Nature.