Choice. A lot comes with it: power, freedom, fear, opportunity, possibility.
But how do we know when our choices are no longer our own? When we’re not actually making a decision but reacting automatically or out of habit?
Look, we’ve all been there: riding life’s wave on autopilot. It’s in those moments that we say, “Why not?” to one drink too many, eating more food than our bodies need, waiting another day to practice self-care. There is comfort, familiarity, assuredness in this cycle; even if the result is one we don’t like, it’s one we know. There are a lot of reasons why we make choices that are unsustainable, even harmful—nostalgia, desire, pattern, hope for something different—but that doesn’t mean we have to continue down that path.
Once upon a time, I was in the driver’s seat with autopilot on full blast. Cruising through life (like so many of us), I filled my days with work, stress, and chaos and my nights with crappy foods, indulgent wine and more stress.
Then it all came crashing down.
I lost my twin baby girls, my mother, my marriage and my job in a whirlwind of a year. You want to talk about unsustainable; I had no idea where to go, who I was or what I should become. Up until that point, my choices hinged on sustaining a life that wasn’t real—the corporate executive position, this season’s “it” bag, getting and gaining. When the things that were real were taken away, I woke up and realized that I hadn’t been making any of these choices at all. I was letting these choices make life for me.
So what did I do?
I cried, I complained, I cursed and I cried some more. Then I found meditation.
Well, I like to think that it found me.
Almost overnight, it felt like my life became mine again, that I had power over its course and a connection to its needs. Meditation didn’t take me anywhere, it brought me back: to myself, to the present moment, to conscious choice. I learned how to remain tethered to the here and now, how to express gratitude and how to slow down. Above all, I learned how to think for myself and be with myself. From this new perspective, I could see how my past conditioning had set the tone for my life and made more choices for me than I made for myself.
A lot of time has passed since that devastating series of losses and, as the old adage goes, most of the wounds have been healed. But for those days when they feel fresh, when it feels like I’m no longer in control of my life and my choices, I rediscover myself and my power through meditation.
I’m back in that driver’s seat, but this time I’m actually the driver.
--Lynne Goldberg. Lynne Goldberg is a certified meditation coach and co-founder of OMG. I Can Meditate!, a mobile and web app that can teach anybody how to meditate in just 10 minutes a day. Goldberg’s simple and clear teaching style has brought the joy of meditation to stressed-out business executives, soccer moms, 80-year-olds, kindergarten kids and everyone in between. She is the author of Get Balanced. Get Blissed. Check out this page for more meditation techniques and tips.