The Space Between Impulse and Choice

What do you do when you feel an impulse to act? My personal space between impulse and choice has always been pretty small. I typically feel it and immediately jump at it. If it’s a pleasurable feeling, I’m the first to run screaming into the street, “Isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” If it’s not pleasurable, I’ll be running to hurt you before you can hurt me more.

impulse and choice

“The moment a thought or desire pops up, we can choose to respond in a way that is different from our habitual, self-serving response. Mindfulness allows us to seize the moment between the impulse to act and the action itself.” From The Path of the Human by Dennis Genpo Merzel

The reason I was persuaded to try meditation in the first place was the hope that I could increase that space between impulse and choice. It has worked. I’m slowly (oh, so damn slowly) starting to…Oh, who am I kidding? It’s us, right? I’ll be honest. I’ve been stuck for years on simply noticing that there IS a stimulus. But that’s progress, right?

Oh, G.I. Joe. You taught me so much, so young.

And this past year, I have found another gem. I can see where I dropped the ball, after the fact. I’ve been working hard at forgiving myself when I screw up but it’s coming even slower than my last small insight. Will it ever get there?

I’m starting to learn that I won’t. There is nowhere to get. This is life. All connected, circling back on itself and out again. I’m born, I live, and I die.

Jalapeno…in your taco…

“We can choose to respond in a new and creative way, or we can choose to simply watch as the impulse fades away. Either way, we have claimed our freedom.” From The Path of the Human by Dennis Genpo Merzel

impulse and choice

Choice. That’s what we think we lack, but it’s illusion. We CAN chose how we react to things once we realize there are things we are reacting to. I used to think that my reactiveness (positive and negative) was who I was, part of my personality. Some past trauma has taught me to behave this way and now I can’t help it, so you just deal with it or move on, buddy!

I’m starting to see that is an identity I created. If I created it, I can also be the one to let it go. The connections make letting my identity go slightly easier. It’s like…we’re all molecules in this universe and I’m only one of them. I’m over here shaking and crying, “I’m important! An individual! Respect me!” When I really should be relaxing and going with the flow.

Sorry, I’m a tad all over the place today. I’m feeling distracted. We’re having a potluck tonight and there is so much to do. The weather is nice though, no more freezing cold wind. What gets done, gets done. The point is to enjoy the time with friends and family. Can’t lose sight of that.

One thing before I go. There’s something making me sad on social media. I know. Big surprise. Since no one is actually READING anything there, I’ll throw out my thoughts here, real quick, and then let it go.

Every year since I’ve been on Facebook, January comes around and we get all the posts about how much the previous year sucked and how much the new year will suck in new ways. Occasionally there is a post about planting seeds of positivity. But I have an idea.

The moment you are in is the only one you get. We don’t get to relive the past. We don’t get to save up and spend our joy in a better year. That saying, “You only live once.” That’s some serious shit. Don’t waste it waiting for better times. Live well right now.

Click back to my first post on “The Path of the Human Being” for more posts inspired by this book.

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