We exercise choice all the time. Sometimes we exercise choices that we made decades ago, and which have persevered through the years by sheer habit. By contrast, freedom of choice is a state in which you have an awareness of the options available, and are able to select which of them seems best. The crucial phrase, of course, is “awareness of the options available.” We are so bound up in our culture’s circumscribed narrative of what it means to be human that a host of options remains hidden from our view. For instance, when we look upon the world, our culture’s bias inclines us to notice its material aspects: its buildings, cars, trees, etc. We tend to experience these as individual, fixed, stable and essentially mechanical.
When that is our stance towards the world, it affects our stance towards our own bodies, which we then tend to experience as individual objects that are fixed, stable and mechanically organized. And we don’t sense that we are exercising choice in the matter, because we believe we are experiencing reality. In fact it’s not reality – it’s the quality of reality that the quality of our attention calls forth from the world. Shift the quality of your attention, and the world shifts.
For instance, you could choose to pay attention to the energy of the world – its currents of exchange waxing and waning all around you. The energy of the world is fluid, on the move, transforming and transformative – and when you choose to notice it, the world itself appears to be fluid, on the move, transforming and transformative. And when that is how you pay attention to the world, the body itself is experienced as a transforming field of energy in flux.
When I first got out of bed this morning, I found myself trying to organize my body mechanically. It didn’t feel good. But I caught myself, shifted the quality of my attention to its energy – and the quality of my body and the world around me immediately shifted. It was like discovering a new self in a new world.