The Art Of Discernment: Part 3
“Discerning: Little Ideas”
How many thousands of decisions do we make in any given day? Most of the decisions we make scarcely resemble decisions at all because we do them without giving them so much as a thought. You know, stuff like opening the car door, turning on a light, walking up stairs, washing our hands, etc. Then there are the other decisions we make in our day that contain an element of consideration: What to wear, what to eat, whether to work out, and so on.
All of these decisions are, at their very core, a little idea. The idea bubbles up, is interpreted, and then gets acted upon with very little fanfare. For most of us, all these decisions seem so normal and easy that we can take them for granted. Other times these decisions can seem like a downright burden, such as figuring out what to make the family for dinner after having worked a full day and still having more work to do that night.
What does all this mean to our exploration of discernment? Basically it means we have thousands of opportunities every day to practice discerning aspiration versus inspiration!
Aspirations primarily arise from an intention of enhancing our experience of fulfillment in some area of our lives. Inspiration has no such motivation. If anything, inspiration arises in response to an experience of fulfillment as opposed to an effort to create fulfillment.
So for example, if you are washing your hands now in order to avoid getting sick later, or learning new skills that you believe will lead you to an experience of fulfillment that you perceive is lacking in your present situation, these activities are likely arising from aspiration. And that’s perfectly fine: aspirations can play a useful role in our lives. If our lives are made up entirely of aspirations, however, we can be left feeling less than fulfilled.
To play with this concept, take an activity from your everyday life that you do on a regular basis such as brushing your teeth, exercising, opening the refrigerator, getting a drink, or whatever else you can think of. Before you start that activity, get very still. With a gentle curiosity, imagine the sense of fulfillment you hope to experience once you have successfully finished that activity. Once you are grounded in that experience, let go of the need for that result, and simply watch what step you take next. Possible options include:
a) Doing the activity, but maintain some attention on your breath as you perform the activity
b) Doing the activity, but do it in a different way than you normally would
c) Doing the activity, but do it at a different time than you normally would
d) Not doing the activity at all
e) Something else entirely
Which course of action did you choose? What was your experience before, during, and after as compared to other times you have done the very same activity?
The point to notice is that when you let go of the need for a particular result, you create a space for inspiration to bubble up. As we do this more often, we get used to what inspiration feels like, and can more aptly distinguish inspiration from aspiration.
When we can tap into that space where we are grounded in fulfillment before we take a particular action, our experience of fulfillment is not threatened by whichever course of action we take. Inspiration then becomes our primary mode of operation, and we can now leverage aspirations in service to inspiration.