In our society, we are faced with constant choices. Which is amazing! It is fantastic to be able to choose what you want, when you want it, how much you're willing to pay for it, and (if you live in Australia) how much you're willing to pay for shipping. However, constant choices can also feel overwhelming, and sometimes we default to a previous choice, for the ease and comfort of that choice, regardless of whether that is the appropriate decision for the given time.
Much like the constant choices we find all around us, we constantly need to choose how to experience our surroundings and ourselves. I find these choices to be much harder to make--mostly because I often forget to actively make these choices. I allow the Spring-default settings to take over. I might be late for a train I planned to take; I begin to run. Someone offer critiques on my work; I feel judged and inept. I miss a workout; I feel bad about my day. It starts to rain; I get cranky and look for shelter or an umbrella.
Those don't have to be the choices I make, though. Yoga teaches us that we can choose how to react to everything in our lives. On the mat, when I notice a strong stretching sensation, I breathe through it; I slow my breath, my mind, and focus on being in that moment. Off the mat reactions are much harder for me to consciously make, though.
I was running last weekend. It began to rain, first a little, and then suddenly much harder. I had no rain gear with me, and was only just getting started on my run. I felt the Spring-default settings kicking in as I thought: "I'll just go home, get in the car, drive to the gym, and run on a treadmill. I'll hate it. I'll be cranky. I probably won't even have enough time to run by the time I get there." ...but then I realized I could make another choice. I could choose to be in the rain. And so I did. I chose to feel the raindrops, to feel them on my skin and feel them soaking into my clothes. I felt the cool water pooling in my shoes, smiled at drips hanging from my eyelashes, and enjoyed the soft slaps of my hair whipping my neck and cheeks. Where I expected frustration, I was able to find joy in being present: nothing was so wrong with getting a little wet.
The fact that I chose to be present, and enjoy and experience the rain, was a difficult choice for me to make. But the fact that I made that choice changed the rest of my day. I was happy that I got to run and I was happy that I was able to enjoy the rain. That happiness spilled into the rest of the day and evening and I noticed (with some surprise) that I was able to go with the flow of unexpected plan changes, unexpected train delays, and unexpected restaurant choices quite easily.
Making conscious choices in our be-ing can be hard. We have to choose to create space for these choices. We have to allow for the option of overriding the default settings we've created.
Our choices of how to respond to our surroundings and ourselves may feel easy at times. And that's fine--it's good practice! Because when the next rainstorm comes, I might not have my umbrella, and I want to be ready.