Three Steps and Three Touchstones for Making Empowered Decisions

BY Parvati

When you find your life not working as optimally as you would have hoped, take pause and look more deeply at what is going on. Eventually, you come to realize that the arc of your life is not always created by the big choices you face, but built upon the smaller choices you make every day.
You likely come across opportunities every day in which you are required to make choices, whether you are asked to choose what food to eat, what people to engage, what clothes to wear, even what thoughts to think. Sometimes you may run on autopilot and not make conscious choices about even these seemingly simple things.
Knowing that in each moment you can make empowering decisions is your first step to creating a life you love.
Your next step in making empowering decisions is realizing that in every situation you do have choice. It may not seem like it. You may feel trapped, helpless, frustrated or out of control. But the idea that you have no choice is an illusion. Even when faced with things you don’t like or situations in which you feel powerless, you can still choose to either let go of your attachment to them, or move beyond the feeling of being without choice and learn profound acceptance. Choice always exists.
Once you accept that you have choice and feel inspired to embrace that power in each moment, you can take the next step in making great decisions. Here are three words that you can use as touchstones to change your life. Use them whenever you face decisions of any kind. Ask yourself: “Does this choice make me feel rooted, vital and expansive?”
Before you act on any decision, you must feel that it meets all three conditions. Not just rooted, or not just rooted and vital. The choice must ring true as rooted, vital and expansive for it to move you in a healthy direction. How come?
In yogic Hindu philosophy (Samkhya philosophy), the natural universe is described as having three major gunas – three characteristic tendencies. Their interplay creates the fabric of life, of our physical reality and the process of evolution. These three gunas are sattva, rajas and tamas. These three gunas also relate to the Ayurvedic medical system (traditional herbal medicine of India) and its doshas – kapha, pitta and vata – the three bodily humours that make up your constitution.
Tamas, or stasis, is related to kapha and the Earth element. This guna or dosha is the quality of being rooted and grounded. But in excess, it becomes stuck, overly attached and its energy tends to involution or entropy (rather than to evolution).
Rajas, or dynamism, is related to Pitta and the fire element. This guna or dosha possesses the quality of transformation and movement, which is an expression of vitality. But in excess, it is unbridled desire and consumption, and you will be left burnt out by wanting.
Sattva, which means balance, order and purity, is more loosely associated with vata, the element of air. The quality of air is expansive, but with too much of it, you can become ungrounded, spaced out, listless and lacking in vitality.
Rootedness is a reflection of your connection to your body, in this moment, to the planet, here and now. When rooted, you feel a downward flow of energy through your legs and into the ground. You feel present without feeling heavy or stuck. It is an energetic expression of how anchored your soul is in your body and to the physical reality in which you find your self. Any decision that is not rooted will lead to feeling unsupported, undernourished, and broken in some way. You will eventually suffer. You see rootedness in nature when you look at a flower or a tree. In order to survive, they have healthy roots in the ground.
Vitality is an expression of aliveness. When you feel vitality in your body regarding a decision, you will sense warmth in your belly that rises gently up into your heart. You will feel animated, awake, dynamic, and cognizant when you think about the possible choice to make. This shows you that the decision is viable, functional and sustainable. You see a healthy sense of vitality in nature when you look at a flower or a tree. The tree’s trunk, roots and branches or the flower’s roots, stem and petals carry the vital energy throughout the living organism so it can maintain health. Vitality without rootedness and expansion is like an uncontained flame. You will get burnt.
Expansion is like the upward and open movement of the flower and branches. The petals are open to the sky. The leaves open to the wind and light. But without the roots and vitality, the flower and the leaves cannot exist. They are unsustainable. You feel expansive when you feel an electricity zing through your body, mostly in your upper body. It is as though there is wind in your proverbial sails and energizing breath in your lungs, when you think of the decision to be made. But too much zing without rootedness and vitality can lead you astray with ungrounded and non-viable ideas.
Whole and sound decisions need to support nature and be an expression of your natural self. As such, they will resonate with all three gunas and doshas, and be rooted, vital and expansive.
You may have made a decision at some point in your past that you regretted or didn’t feel great about. Such decisions are not necessarily mistakes, but can become compost for the budding flowers of your life, if you are willing to be self-compassionate and embrace change.
Learning new habits takes time. So when you are learning to ask yourself if a decision makes you feel rooted, vital and expansive, be patient. Give yourself the time to find a quiet place and tune in. Feeling in a rush or impatient only creates more disconnection and stress – which do not support you feeling rooted, vital and expansive.
Over time, asking yourself if you feel rooted, vital and expansive will become second nature. Remember, no matter how good an offer seems, if it does not meet these three touchstones, then it is best to let it go.
I hope that this knowledge helps to empower you to make choices that come from your soul’s wisdom so that you can move forward in your life with clarity, courage and confidence. I would love to hear from you about your practice of incorporating these touchstones into your life. Enjoy honouring your inner voice. Remember, you are worth it!

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