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with Michelle Berger

Decisions, decisions, decisions …. everywhere we look there are decisions to be made: what to eat, what to wear, what to watch …. the list of options and decisions is nearly endless and quite frankly it’s an awful lot! How can one not become overwhelmed!

If we struggle to make the small choices, then how can we ever hope to make the big decisions like buying a house, accepting a job or committing to a partner?

I once knew a man who decided where to live by throwing a dart at a map of the US. I heard a couple say they played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would get up to change their babies' diapers during the night. How many over-burdened decisions are made by flipping a coin? Life is a party, but should we let games make our decisions!?! There must be a better way!

My personal party trick is taking any conversation and making it understood through yoga philosophy. So my friends, put on your party hats and let’s make some decisions!!

The Vedas, ancient texts on yogic philosophy, explain that there are three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and darkness. Actions in the mode of goodness are said to result in happiness and knowledge, those born of passion are fueled by unlimited desires and longing, while those of darkness breed ignorance, frustration and disappointment. How exactly does this correspond to decision making? The thing is, what happens in the space between action and response makes all the difference. When faced with a desire or a decision, if we pause, take three deep breaths and consider which mode we are acting and deciding from, it will help us determine an outcome for growth, happiness and knowledge.

Let’s look at this from a practical application. If I am starving and acting in the mode of passion (desire and longing), I might race to a vending machine for a bag of chips or a snickers bar. Both options quickly fill the senses with crunchy, salty, and sweet flavor. But, with an empty wrapper in hand, will I actually feel satisfied: probably not. If a choice is made in goodness, if I take those three deep breaths and remember this is about nourishment not craving and instead I calmly retrieve the nuts or apple I packed the night before, then as I toss the apple core in the compost I feel satiated and happily return to the task at hand. However, if the night before I act from darkness, if I choose to stare at Instagram instead of packing an apple and nuts; well, then I’ll find myself frustrated in front of the vending machine without enough quarters.

Remember that party hat? Well, I wear mine on the yoga mat to PRACTICE taking those three deep breaths, to PRACTICE listening to my breath and to PRACTICE feeling what my body needs. The Yoga Sutras, another ancient text, teach us that: “Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness” (Sutra 2.14) By continuous practice on the mat, we can develop the mode of goodness to carry off the mat and into our day! From this peaceful state of listening we can begin to understand what we are feeling, what we need and peacefully make decisions to support those needs.

Maybe one day I’ll see you on the mat!

Join Michelle for Sunrise Yoga Mondays & Thursdays at 7 a.m.

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