By: Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Director of Mindfulness Programming, Mohonk Mountain House
Life is rarely a straight path. As much as we’d like it to be a process of connecting the dots in a line, it’s too rich and unpredictable to fall into place so easily. But the times when things shift away from our plans maybe the most valuable experiences of all. Instead of fearing change, we can use mindfulness to help us embrace new possibilities.
In my own life, my husband Bert and I worked in Washington, DC, after grad school with jobs in our fields of study. We enjoyed our careers, and our path appeared linear. Yet after a lot of soul searching, we left those careers 30 years ago to put our energy into helping Mohonk, which was struggling at that time. We had achieved our own stability, but we feared for the future of the Mountain House as a family business, and felt we had to respond.
It was a non-linear, unexpected move that changed our lives forever. We learned that each moment is a choice. Although this may sound obvious, it can have profound implications for living your most satisfying life. Each moment is a choice is based on mindfulness: being present one moment at a time, in a gentle non-judgmental way. The non-judgmental part is important because minds are often saying “I like this; I don’t like that; this is good; that’s ridiculous.” When minds are so busy judging, it’s difficult to listen deeply or to move past our anxieties. And it’s hard to clearly see the most skillful way forward.
When you’re faced with a major life choice or change, remember that mindful decision making is only a breath away. Breathe gently and fully. Focus awareness on the breath. Let go of thoughts, let go of fear, let go of expectations. Clear the mind and calm the body. Again and again. Each moment that you choose clarity and calm instead of stress, you’re increasing your ability to dispel fear, to explore new possibilities, to see the unique and unexpected potential that your life holds, right now. Simply, clearly, deeply understanding that each moment is a choice gives you an endless opportunity to grow and change.