Choosing illumination

In this article I would like to illustrate how you influence your own state of consciousness through your choices, and help you realise that you are totally free to make different choices if you desire a more expansive and luminous state of awareness. Your state of consciousness is not in the hands of any other person or group of people. The power of choice is yours, and this is where your freedom lies.

Now to illustrate this, imagine if I suggested that for one whole day you listen to the most depressing or aggressive music you could find non-stop. What do you think would be your state of mind by the end of that day? How would you be likely to be feeling?

And what if I suggested the opposite; that you listen to the most beautiful, inspiring and uplifting music for an entire day. You can imagine the likely outcome. By the end of the day, you would most likely be in a very positive state of mind and experiencing an elevated mood, probably feeling quite energised too.

What I am highlighting here is that all day long we are choosing to listen to different communications; some from the outside and some from within. Internally, we are usually listening to our thoughts chattering on and on, commentating on our experiences, proffering opinions on anything and everything (especially other people and their behaviour), passing judgement upon ourselves and others, imaging the future and the problems we expect to arise, and on and on and on. Needless to say, this strongly influences how we feel, yet listening to it is totally optional.

On top this, every day we are giving our attention to a significant amount of information from external sources, a lot of which is negative, and all of which affecting us, even if we don’t realise it. Again, we are choosing what to give our attention to, even though so much of it seems compelling, and almost impossible not to look at or listen to. But it is vital to realise that it is a choice, and this realisation opens up our mind to greater freedom, because we can literally put our attention wherever we choose. We just have to become a little but more disciplined and careful with it, and realise that our choice of what to be aware of really does affect us profoundly.

Finally, we also add to this the food which we consume on a daily basis. The things we put in our stomach are incredibly influential upon how we feel and how our mind operates. Things we consume usually stay in our system for a number of hours, and effect our physiology in a very direct and powerful way. To become aware of how we are choosing our state consciousness, we must become aware of what substances we are putting in our body on a daily basis, many of which do nothing positive for us whatsoever; they often makes us feel heavy, tired and lethargic, or over-stimulated, restless and irritable.

So, if you listen and give attention to your negative mental chatter – the inner bad news broadcast in your mind, the criticisms, the complaints, the worries that endlessly arise – you will inevitably perceive the reality which they create for you. It is an inner reality that is experienced in your mind and in your body (although we often tend to project it ‘out there’ and imagine that we are just perceiving the world as it is). It is a reality of disharmony and dis-chord, more shadowy and uncertain than we would want. Yet we choose it.

As a consequence of listening to all the mental negativity, you are bound to feel in a negative mood; perhaps stressed, anxious, angry, agitated, worried and so on, because you have been paying attention to all of the things that actively create a negative attitude, a negative outlook, a critical and often pessimistic perspective that exists in your mind. Listening to the ‘negative mind’ creates ‘negativity consciousness’, or what I call “problem consciousness”. We just see problems everywhere, and most of them are out of our control, so therefore the way we feel becomes out of our control. We feel powerless; a victim of our circumstances or a victim of others people’s choices. But this is not true, it is just a state of consciousness that is the consequence of our choice to listen to the mental negativity.

This negative state of consciousness is fed and encouraged by our choosing to give our attention to negative external information, such as world news, politics, disturbing or aggressive films, programmes, books and music. We literally create an inner abstract world of negativity using the information we absorb. We start to think along the lines of this negative information, imagining the worst for the future, expecting bad things to happen every day. We can very easily become pessimistic, because the information we are absorbing actively encourages “problem consciousness”. Again it is a choice.

So we have to realise what we are doing; how we are fuelling this outlook, how we are thinking daily, how we are eating daily, what information we are consuming daily. All of it influences us far more than we think, because our consciousness is so very easily influenced. It is like water, which adopts the frequency and pattern of the sounds which it is subjected to, but to an even greater degree. We need to protect our consciousness, and treat it like it is the most valuable substance in the universe, being extremely careful what we subject it to, because it is so impressionable, and it affects how we feel on a deep level. It is far from being inconsequential.

As an experiment, if for 5 days you stopped watching and listening to the news, stopped watching films, TV and YouTube, stopped reading social media and instead spent your free time in nature, being active, or being creative in some way, what do you think would happen to your state of mind?

To support this, what if you had 5 days of no junk food, no fast food, no big heavy rich meals, but instead are more fruit, salads, smoothies and lighter meals? Do you think you might feel a little less tired, and a little more inspired? I can assure you that you would. And because of the above-mentioned information detox, your mind would be feeling lighter and less burdened also. You would feel freed from the burden of the negative perspective which so much of the mainstream information encourages within our thoughts.

And to really add the icing to the cake (so-to-speak), what if you started and ended each day with 5 minutes of gratitude, or 5 minutes of meditation, or 5 minutes of deep relaxation? How would this enrich your daily state of consciousness? Because you would start listening to your body more. You would start listening to your heart more, and we all need to do more of this, because our heart has deeply valuable information to share with us. It tells us things that our mind cannot, because our heart possess greater wisdom, greater sensitivity and greater compassion. Our heart feels everything, and when we listen to it, it will guide us to act, speak and think in much more evolved ways than we are used to, and this will benefit not only ourselves and all those we interact with. Our life will change in so many positive ways.

Every single choice we make, every single day, makes us feel (and think) a certain way, and these choices are all cumulative; they add up. So if you want to feel miserable by the end of the day, you know exactly what to do! Watch the news, listen to uninspired music, eat junk food, don’t exercise, be rude to everyone you meet, spend most of your time sitting down indoors, stare at the computer screen until late at night, and then feel guilty for doing all of this!

However, if you want to feel really good about yourself and about the world by the end of the day, if you want to feel inspired and enthusiastic about the next day, become more aware of the many automatic choices you make throughout the day, and see if you can improve them, bit by bit. You can choose the healthier meals, you can spend more time in nature, you can choose to be more patient and attentive with the people you meet, you can choose to be more physically active during the day, you can choose to listen to inspiring music or podcasts instead of what you normally listen to or watch. You can choose those things that really make you feel inspired.

Such choices directly change your state of consciousness. Many people say “What’s the point? It’s just too much effort…” then they carry on their life feeling uninspired, frustrated, and anxious about the future. That is a choice too, and to be honest, not an intelligent one. Yes, effort and awareness are required to step out of the ruts that we habitually get ourselves stuck in, but the rewards for doing so are invaluable, and sometimes even life-saving.

Do you want to go down the same path as a unhappy relative or a friend you may know? Someone who complains all day, has weight / health problems, feels lonely, bitter, and lives in a constant state of subtle anxiety about the future? That could very easily be you if you surrender to doing what everybody else does: being consumerist, eating the standard diet, being overly sedentary, absorbing and believing all the negative media information, and worrying, worrying, worrying about the future. That’s an easy path to choose, because our society makes it easy. It promotes consumerism.

But you could break the cycle if you chose to. You could become an example of someone who chooses intelligently and consciously, someone who does not surrender to laziness, consumerism, and mediocrity; someone who chooses good health, who chooses to enjoy nature and be active, who chooses to help others, rather than get absorbed in their own wants and desires. You truly have the choice of who you want to be. You can feel like a different person tomorrow if you make those better choices, because you already know what those choices are. The only thing needed is your firm decision to choose them, and the discipline to make sure you follow through on your decisions. The rewards for such discipline are bountiful, because we become a stronger person with higher standards for ourself. Therefore we feel better about ourself, and carry ourselves with greater self-respect. Essentially, making better choices for your health and happiness is the practice of being more loving towards yourself, because you really do deserve goodness, health and happiness. But you have to choose it.

Your state of consciousness, your health and your life really are in your own hands. Yes, it is a responsibility, but only you know what is in your heart, so you must be the one to follow it. A happy, healthy and meaningful life beckons you, simply awaiting your decision to step out of the old, and into the new. I can assure you, the world looks like a different place when you are seeing through bright and inspired eyes.

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About Alexander Bell

Spiritual teacher, composer, author, father and healing nutritionist. • http://AlexanderBell.org
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