By Thea Iberall
Have you ever sat at a red light and when it turns green, someone next to you shoots forward to get in front of you? Sometimes I do that to people, especially when I want to be in their lane. I’ve learned that in order to get ahead of them, it helps to be in motion instead of being stock still like they are. So I approach the light slowly so that I am in motion when the light turns green. A scientist would explain that being in motion overcomes inertia, which is the unwillingness to change. This is true for just about anything. It takes less energy to be doing a task than to start doing it. Being in process is more active than starting up. Last week, I talked about the cycles of the universe. How everything is changing, including us. Our hearts beat around 60 times a minute, our eyes blink around 10 times a minute. Our water balances over the course of three days, our temperature fluctuates up and down. After studying all the cycles of biology, my father, a theoretical physicist, surmised that we have a six- second cycle for making a decision—about every six seconds, somewhere in our brain, a decision is being made to remain doing what we are doing or do something different. This makes a lot of sense to me. Otherwise, how does one create an intelligent system to make decisions? You need a mechanism to do so. With this six- second cycle, the decision-making apparatus doesn't have to be cranked up from zero mph in order to make a decision. It's already in motion. Every moment, about ten times a minute, somewhere in our brain we are making a decision. That's a lot of decisions, about 15,000 throughout one day. Some are things like decide to stay asleep, or maybe decide to eat lunch, or maybe take a job offer. But some are really important decisions, like how will I treat myself right now. Every simple act is not so simple, from sitting at a traffic light to beating one's self up. How do you use your 15,000 daily decisions? Are any of them a conscious decision to spend time being loving to yourself? And just think of it, if you do start beating yourself up, you have the opportunity, every six seconds, to stop doing it.
We can change. Everything in the Universe changes. For humans, it takes awareness to change. Sometimes it is an effort. When we value ourselves, it is worth the effort.
Your numbers about decisions per minute shows that we’re never the captive of what is happening. We can always make the choice to change. That’s very powerful and not something we appreciate. It’s happening below consciousness and the challenge is to bring it to consciousness.
It made me pause and gave me comfort. When I meditate and it’s not going well, I blame myself. I can now look at what is happening in the synapses and understand that the trigger is in the brain. I can gently go back. My breath anchors me because it breathes us. I now won’t beat myself up so much. I’ll just go to the breath.
Yes, tie it to the breath and bring yourself back. Make those decisions to stay meditating with a quiet mind through awareness of the breath.
Thank you so much. I had no idea we make decisions that many times. It helps me understand how tired I am at the end of the day. I like to say yes rather than no to what comes along. I like a variety of experiences and I can wear myself out by saying yes. This pausing to become more mindful of this power of the ability to have less happen in 24 hours is an ongoing exercise for me to balance out the decisions for participating versus holding loosely for others. Thank you.
There are several times lately that I have misspoke and hurt other people. I don’t do that in spiritual direction where I am more of my essence. My ego is not there as much. I know the trick about pausing and not reacting right away. I can think about how to respond versus react. The additional tool is to breathe during that pause in order to get myself back to where I need and want to be. So those missteps are not as likely to happen. Rather than repairing things, having them not happen in the first place.
I received a text message from someone who was cancelling helping with an activity and it forced me to change my plans. I responded poorly because it triggered me and I did not use patience and I was not loving and gentle. I am regretting my decision of how I reacted. During the meditation, I was thinking that, instead of fighting it, I should accept it. I am regretting my reaction but I am coming to a point of acceptance.
That’s all we can do. We do what we do and we can reflect on whether that’s how we want to be and we can make amends. And move on. And we learn from it. What is important is to learn. We make a mistake. We are not a mistake.
Thank you for the reading. I heard that decision-making is part of a process and that we are in flux, we are moving. We have to be prepared and not fixated. I like that and like thinking about how we are in the world. It’s helpful to me because I think, when I’ve done something I don’t feel good about, it feels final. That it defines my whole personality and I get entrenched in that. As opposed to that it’s all in flux. Ok, I screwed up. I didn’t screwup yesterday. I’m looking at it in this moment. That helps me ground with the idea of gentleness. I think of myself as being in process and it takes whatever length of time it takes to change and act differently.
There are six steps of change which show process. We approach things, we evaluate things, we do things. It’s a cycle.
In these situations where I have to change my plans, I get into resentment. It’s in that place the negative reaction occurs. There’s taking care of oneself, and not always be the accommodating person. Being flexible versus rigid, being resentful. There’s a whole lot involved than being accepting and gracious. We’re human and all that other stuff is in there.
It’s not about being a doormat, but it’s recognizing that fear drives us so much. It’s a choice, do we want to live in our fear or our faith? Do we want to live in our values? We can have reactions. When someone cancels on me, I remind myself this is an opportunity for me to be accommodating because next time it’s going to be me cancelling on someone and them getting mad at me. I try to look at it with empathy. They are doing the best they can and if it’s not putting me out to such a stretch, then I can be there for them. My spouse wanted me to do something this week and usually I accommodate. But this would have stressed me out too much and I said no, which stressed her out. It happens, and we are all doing the best we can. It worked out because we both stayed true to ourselves.
Thank you so much for joining today in this meditation and reflection. I cherish the discussion, the reflections, the wisdom we share together. It’s joyous. I am grateful you are all here. Thank you for participating. Thank you for willingness to spend 15 minutes in silence giving yourself this gift. I hope you all have a beautiful, gentle, blessed day as you go out and become more aware of all the decisions and opportunities for change and reflection.