Friday, March 18, 2011

Life is a choice: illustration

At any given moment, we have an infinitude of choices before us.  Some of the choices may be conscious, but most are not.  When we become aware of some of our choices, we realize that we have the freedom to choose in which directions to go.  Even if we decide not to choose, letting others or our own habits take over, that in itself is a choice.  If we decide to make conscious choices, we become empowered by our freedom instead of shrinking from it, and our life develops with a clearer sense of direction, instead of being tyrannized by our narrowing habits of unawareness, lack of clarity and focus.

What are you doing right now?  
What are you consciously choosing to do right now? 

At the moment, as I consider what I am consciously choosing at the moment, I realize that I am choosing to write this blog, and I spontaneously begin to notice what I am doing with myself.  I move my fingers, use my eyes, smile, breathe, continue sitting in the chair, keep my legs crossed, notice the effect of the leg-crossing on my use, notice some discomfort creeping up to my awareness, let my arms release a bit, let my neck be free, breathe, feel the floor under my one foot, notice the chair under my sitbones, let my neck be free, remember where up is, let my torso lengthen and widen, let my knees aim forward and away, and I notice that I have more choices before me:

I could continue to sit in this way as I write, or I could move to a position that would give me more mechanical advantage, and relieve some of the stress on my system.  OR, I could continue observing the effect that the leg-crossing has, and improve the use of myself as I stay in this position.  OR, I could just ignore everything other than writing here.  I can't help noticing the increasing tension in my neck as I continue to write, so I am choosing to move myself into a position with both feet on the ground.  But, first I am stopping, because I know that rushing into a new position will just mean more unconscious movement with a less-than-positive result, so I am choosing to wait, giving myself time to think it through first.  That instantly helps me breathe better, and the tension in my neck releases.

I am smiling.  Letting my neck be free, so that my head can be freely poised on the top of my spine, aiming forward and up, I let my whole self expand with freely moveable joints, and I let my legs move so that my feet are now both on the ground.

I pay attention to the space around me.  I hear noise from upstairs, and I turn to look out the window for a moment, noticing the light.  I breathe.  I feel gratitude for my life.  I shift in the chair, and I realize that I no longer want to be writing here.  Enough for now.

Laughing, I realize that I have a choice: I could just stop now after I quickly finish this post, OR I could finish it later, OR I could write a bit more, OR I could do nothing.  I choose the last option, and I stop writing for a moment......

For a short blissful moment, I just sat here and nourished my soul with non-thinking/non-doing.  Happier now, I smile and choose to finish up this blog now and post it.

This was an illustration of one way I practice the Alexander Technique when I choose to do so!


  1. Hi there, this is a question about your "Life is a Choice" post, which I find very interesting. I see that at all moments we have a variety of choices, and being conscious of them can help us both make the right choice, and avoid making the wrong one. However, in your description of choices as you write, it seems that you can easily lose your focus and concentration if you constantly have to be weighing your choices and deciding which way to go. How do you deal with the potential inefficient use of your time, energy, and concentration if you get dispersed considering all these choices? How do you avoid getting lost in multiplicity, distracted by all those "cereal boxes on the supermarket shelves"?
    Thanks for your answer.

  2. Thanks, this is a great question. There are several things I'd like to address in response.

    1. First of all, I'd like to point out that we don't have to think that there is a single "right" choice or "wrong" choice, since the possible choices before us are infinite. Depending on your specific or general goal, there could be choices that would be more appropriate or more efficient, in short "better" or "worse" because they are more or less likely to carry you in the direction of your intention. Even a "worse" choice, which may initially seem to take you further away from your goal, could later be seen as a "good" choice if it led to your learning something important, or getting something positive and unintended out of it as a result, which would help you attain your goal in the long run.

    Of course, categorizing our choices as "right" or "wrong" is also a choice. However, that perspective will tend to encourage viewing things through the lens of polarity and separation rather than with a unified field of awareness, which is more in accordance with an Alexander Technique way of seeing things.

    2. Regarding the potential to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices (apparently, science has found that we can handle up to nine choices before getting overwhelmed), we can also choose when to limit the number of choices that we want to include in our awareness (I don't have to look at ALL the cereal boxes on the shelf). In my blog post, I was specifically choosing to notice my available choices, and as long as I allowed myself to be in the mode of Observer, the possible choices kept pouring in. However, I only let that last for a minute or so (I wrote a lot of words, but it didn't actually last that long in real time) before I chose to take action. (I don't want to spend too much time writing each blog post, especially if I'm going to do it every day!). My goal was to notice and write about noticing choices, and to practice the Alexander Technique in this way for a little while. I remained quite focused and concentrated (in the best sense of the word--that's another subject in itself) on my goal of writing a blog post as I experimented, and I didn't experience any loss of energy; on the contrary, I found myself smiling and laughing through it, which are good indicators of increasing energy.

    When I did start to get tired of the game, I chose to stop and do nothing for a moment. This was the best part of the experiment. Non-Doing is blissful. If there is a "right" choice, this is it!

    3. It is important to realize that it is not so much what we choose to do, but HOW we choose to do it. If we open our awareness to the fact that there are many possibly good choices--not just one or two--that takes the pressure off of us to choose the "right" or "best" one, and it becomes easier to take the plunge and choose without getting distracted or overwhelmed.

    4. The Alexander Technique is based on these simple concepts:


    Alexander says, "Let the right thing do itself." If we choose to stop our unconscious, habitual "doing" of thoughts/activity for a moment and observe what is around and within us with conscious awareness, we can then choose to open ourselves up to the All-Possibility and trust that the right thing will "do itself". In the end, if we trust and allow, the specific choices will "do themselves" from deep within us, and everything will flow with ease. In the end, it really comes down to a very basic, general choice: between the directions of being conscious or not, alive or not, up or down, fixed or free.


Your comments are welcomed with an open mind and heart.