What do I want for breakfast? Where do I want to go for coffee? Should I get anxious at this long queue, or just stand here, smile and enjoy my breathing? Should I honk and yell at the careless driver, or just smile and let her through?
These are some examples of choices we get to experience every day. At first you may think they seem irrelevant and insignificant choices. Please bear with me and for just one moment, have a beginner’s mind and hear me out.
These small choices are the ones that will shape and change your life. It’s not the big ones like marriage, buying a house or moving to another country.
Habits are manifested from choosing a “bad” or a “good” choice. These habits become your behavior, which then in turn make up your personality.
Personality colours your perception, relationships, beliefs, and how you feel. In the end you always have a choice. 1) A choice to suffer or 2) A choice to not suffer. Hopefully, you opt for the choice that makes you suffer less. And, more importantly, make a choice! If you can’t decide, you also suffer.
Here are some choices I’ve taken in my life that have changed my life.
1) Accept. I know life isn’t fair. I have chosen to accept it for what it is and stop the blaming. I go with the flow of life. When I accept and see things as they really are, I cultivate understanding and love within me. I suffer less when I have understanding of myself and others.
2) Feel Blessed. I sometimes call it the attitude of gratitude. Being able to wake up every morning is a miracle. Every morning when I wake up, I immediately smile and feel my breath coming in and out of my body for about 3-5 breaths. This makes me feel blessed for being alive, and readies me for a brand new day ahead.
After I step on the yoga mat or meditate, I always take a few moments to smile and express my gratitude to all the teachers before me, within me and after me for showing me this auspicious path. I then also carry this gratitude everywhere I go; the delicious coffee or tea in my hands, the meal before me, the community I live in, and the people sitting across from me, especially my loved ones.
3) Speak Good Words. Good words increase good vibration and water my good seeds of happiness, peace, and calm. I'm always the first receiver of my thoughts and speech. So why not speak lovingly? On the contrary, if I gossip, use profanity or negative words such as “gross, disgusting, hate, stupid, blame” etc. I water my seeds of afflictions (klesha) and the people in ear shot of me get them too. Please sit down and consciously write down words you would like to remove from your vocabulary and come up with new loving words you can use every day.
4) Walk the Talk. Honesty and integrity are two character traits that mindfulness has taught me, as a teacher, student, friend, daughter and partner. I know that when I lie, I’m really being untruthful to myself, my soul, my consciousness and my whole being. I also lower my own vibration and I don’t heal.
5) Share My Wisdom, Not Suffering. Every morning I sit and check in my capacity for the day. For example, I check in with my body, mind, and how I’m feeling each day.
If I’m suffering, I meditate longer and breathe deeply to take care of my pain. I know that it’s a state of mind and I need to come back to my mindful breathing. I also spend more time alone to breathe and be with my suffering. I heighten my awareness of my speech and I speak less. I do everything I can with all the mindfulness practices I know to NOT let suffering defeat me or over spill this suffering onto others. Life is just too short to dwell in my suffering. Here’s an experiment, look up at the blue sky and try to frown. Not possible right? Life really IS amazing and worth living for. We are alive everyday for a reason.
If my capacity is high I spread my peace, love and joy to people I encounter throughout the day. Even if it's just a smile or a nod of kindness. I have vowed to make my good energy and good intentions as my signature wherever I go.
Transformation does not have to involve big choices in life. It is the day to day positive choices that have changed my life tremendously.
I also invite you to start by making a decision first, to suffer or to not suffer. If the choice you’ve chosen does not serve you, at least then you have another choice to make. But if you sit around and don’t decide, you suffer. Please decide to live life to its fullest.
Choosing to smile,