April 18, 2016

The Groove is the Grave: Shifting Gears for Self-Empowerment.

Alex Jones/Unsplash

This is a story about a woman and coconut ice-cream.

It goes precisely like this.

I walked into the local ice-cream parlor knowing exactly what I wanted, a double scoop of coconut ice-cream. I was told  they didn’t carry coconut but did have bittersweet chocolate, vanilla bean and some ten other unappealing flavors. I settled for the bittersweet chocolate and walked out slightly annoyed.

Because I don’t give up easily, I returned for a scoop of coconut ice-cream within a day. With a smile painted on his face, the young man politely answered, “We don’t have coconut ice-cream but how about passionfruit sorbet today?” I didn’t care much for passion fruit, but I accepted it anyways.

As I upped my visits to twice a day, he had me pegged. Day in and day out was a repetition of day one—me walking out of the ice-cream shop slightly dissatisfied with an unwanted flavor dripping down my wrist. Our daily dialogue began to sound like a broken record.

Then, out of the blue, he was no longer so polite. He glared at me with a stern kind of look and bluntly asserted, “If you want what you say you want, coconut ice-cream that is, and know that we obviously don’t have it, why do you keep coming back? Why don’t you head down the road, less than a half-mile, to the Gelateria where their signature flavor is coconut!” Bewildered and a bit stoned by his blatancy, I stumbled outside into the heat of the August sun, this time without any dripping ice-cream in hand.

This was a provocative question from such a young man. It was a telling moment that propelled me into deep reflection. Why had I wasted so much time going back day after day to a place where I knew didn’t carry what I wanted? If I was so sure of what I wanted why did I religiously forgo my heart’s desire for some unappealing second-on-my-list flavor?

Habits are hard to break, and moving on can be a challenge.

Manifesting what we soulfully desire, whether it be a loving relationship, an out of this world job, or a long lost dream, my coconut ice-cream story is a metaphorical lens through which we can see where we are backtracking and losing time and ground. If we allow it to, it might be an incentive to shift gears and say good-bye to our groove.

It was a crush, the kind that makes no sense at all but can blur one’s vision and fog all capacity to make discerning choices. Despite an ocean of distance between us, I still wanted deep connection. Beyond the daily texting and the sporadic romantic weekends here and there, I wanted more. When the Big Blue and time separated us, I wished for more phone, more heartfelt sharing but I settled for the text messages because that is what I got and it was better than nothing.

There were moments of lucidity where I was able to recognize our dance which I had previously chosen to ignore and see things for what they were. Occasionally, when I would wake up from my drunken stupor of pretending and wishing things were different between us, I would courageously call it quits. I’d feel empowered for taking the bull by the horns and caring for my needs. But with just one tantalizing text message—I miss you so much!—I would fall into a monolog of, maybe I’ve got it all wrong, maybe he wants more. I would latch on with full force to any glimmer of hope, of fantasy and, of course, his next text.

I’d dug my own grave, and I was 10 feet under before I could see how stuck I was. I knew what I wanted; I just went after it in all the wrong places. Instead of waking up to a new day, a new possibility, I woke up every damn day to a ”groundhog morning,” one which payed the same scenario; the one I’d co-created.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I was guilty of this, and maybe you have been too. The repeated doing is called a vasana in Sanskrit, and means an accumulation of habitual tendencies which can induce us to reenact particular patterns of behavior, consequently having a lasting influence on our reality.

In other words, it’s a deeply engraved habit or groove that is hard to climb out of. In fact, the grave becomes so bottomless, we can’t see beyond the pile of dirt lining its sides. If we continuously dig for gold in the same spot over and over again even when there is no gold to be found, the hole might get so big, we fall in. The groove then becomes the grave, our grave.

We all want what we want. We all want change too, but few of us are seriously ready to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Taking a different route would be risky but so is getting out of bed each morning; even more dangerous is not getting what our heart desires. Until we can earnestly accept that by doing the same thing over and over we can’t expect anything but the same outcome, we’ll never be free. It’s a simple equation, one the mind has a difficult time wrapping its brain around in moments of wanting.

They say we are creatures of habit. Some studies claim that in a mere 21 to 66 day span we are well on our way to making whatever we invest our time and energy into, the real deal. We like to be safely assured of the outcome because it creates familiarity, and familiarity is like a security blanket—we can’t let go of it.

Making habitual choices yields repeated results. Every time we choose to fall back into the comfort of our grave we reinforce the muscle of our habitual tendencies instead of rewiring the neurons of the brain to increase our chances of getting what we want.

Every indulgence strengthens its forces and thereby increases it’s influence on our mind, which then motivates our actions and thus the cycle is repeated. It becomes a habit. To keep our habits alive, we must nourish them through our attention and continuous repetition. The stronger the habit, the more we become its slave and the less power we have over it, thus it masters our destiny.

There is something about the driving and debilitating force of fear that keeps us from stepping out on that limb of newness. The fear of not getting what we want or sometimes the fear of getting what we want keeps us imprisoned. Victimized, we seek to blame others for not getting what we want. We forego our ability to stand in our power and confidently and consciously make the choices aligned with our true desires. We fall into the temptation of instant gratification because we settle for sloppy seconds knowing all along that we are selling our souls.

I once read a quote that most of us shoot for the 98 percent, the comfort zone, which sucks the life out of our being and robs us of our fullness. The tiny 2 percent is reserved for those who do dare to go for their dreams, explore the unexplored, get the most out of life and live abundantly.

We don’t have to wait for others to define us and our reality. We can own our choices and take full responsibility for what we desire and make them our story instead of letting others decide for us. Fantasizing that we might be lovingly fed coconut ice-cream with a silver spoon might seem absurd, but isn’t that what we do? Life becomes small and banal when we eliminate exciting new possibilities by endlessly choosing the given by default.

We are either a victim of our habitual tendencies or not. Reinforcing the muscle of manifestation lies solely in our hands. Try something new, whether it be shaking up your yoga practice, taking a different route to work, indulging in a triple scoop of coconut ice-cream if you always skip dessert, and why not accept a date or two with that “Oh, I don’t date that sorta guy.” Even the healthiest of habits can transform over time into a monotonous automatic pilot routine that kills the present moment. Keep your routine fresh to avoid sinking into the layers of the dirt that will bury you alive.

If we sincerely want our story to finish differently, then we must proactively rewrite the scenario and maybe even change our role from supporting actor to the main character. This process begins with being conscious of the driving forces that run havoc in lives. There is no need to resist our impressionable tendencies but rather to create a new empowering template.

What would it take you to climb out of your groove and alter your current momentum so as to live a conscious life of mastery? It begins with self-awareness and self-reflection. To uncover the driving forces that keep us buried, we can ask ourselves if what we are presently living is congruent with what we desire. If not, ask why. Are our choices steering us in the direction of our desires or not? Self-mastery is in the hands of the master, and this master is you.

I can’t disclose the totality of precious wisdom and insights my coconut story gifted me, but I will tell you that shifting gears gave me the courage to go for the gusto—a lifetime of unlimited coconut ice-cream.

Like William Ernest Henley in his poem Invictus, I too choose to be the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.

I choose to be the master of my life and the gatekeeper of my desires.

I take responsibility for my happiness and for making conscious choices that move me closer to what I want in life.




The Key To Making Empowered Decisions 

Author: Jessica Magnin
Volunteer Editor: Lindsay Carricarte / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Unsplash/Alex Jones 

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