Every week I bring a new focus to the classes that I teach – one that I find helpful to me in my life and that I feel relevant and potentially beneficial to the students. These focuses are born from inspiration – the inspiration I find from a sentence I read in a book, from hearing in conversation, or simply from observing my own patterns and behaviour. The sources are many, but almost everything I’ve ever felt insightful enough to carry through to my students all boil down to the focus from two weeks ago. The focuses often present themselves to me right before I fall asleep at night, and this one was no exception.
Everything I try to convey in my classes and through the various outlets available to me, every bit of insight and advice I am approached for, all stem from one question we need to be constantly asking ourselves: am I making decisions in my life that I can be proud of? In the same way that all Hindu gods and goddesses stem from the one omnipotent energy source that is Ishvara, everything we seek and question in our lives stems from this concept of having the wherewithal and ability for staying in the present moment to question our motives for taking the decisions that we do. And boy, do we make decisions. Every minute of every hour presents us with countless options as to how we want to live this life we’ve been given. And much like those Choose Your Own Adventure books that I loved as a child, we never have only one option – if you want to do one thing, turn to page 99. If you’d rather do this other thing, turn to page 26. If neither of them is speaking to you, turn to page 155. As with those books, few of the options will ever bring you to your demise, and so we have a grand task presented to us every time we actively decide on something.
Being present and accountable for what we decide for ourselves isn’t about ensuring we’re looking for every single fork in the road to make sure that none get left by the wayside…we would go mad if we spent all our time jumping on every opportunity to make THE decision to end all other decisions…it is, however, about making sure that we check ourselves at that pivotal moment where we understand that the decision facing us has the potential to bring us closer to where we’d like to be, closest to who we see ourselves as being. We always have more than one possibility as to where our decisions will take us. As Sri Swami Satchidananda’s focus on December 1, 2011 stated, “We should be very, very careful about what desires we cultivate. There may be many other little desires, it doesn’t matter; but our predominant desire should be something elevating. Something that would take you away from this to a higher level, never something that would take you backward.” The desires we cultivate are cultivated through our choices, and with a multitude of choices available to us, we need to make sure that we find some sort of advancement or evolution through these choices. Forget about what would make others happy. Parents, siblings, friends, co-workers…it’s not about them. This journey is yours alone, and you have a responsibility to yourselves to honour who you are and how you want to live this life. Ask yourselves the most fundamental of questions when unsure of whether your decisions are proving to be fruitful or not: “Has this brought me suffering, to ANY degree, or has it brought me peace?” The answer will be clear. And it will prove helpful when choosing where your adventure will next take you. It just requires you to show up…to be awake…and to make sure that you can be proud of your choices. For no one other than yourselves. After all, it’s your adventure.