Today I find myself in a familiar old spot of accumulated stress, due to getting concerned about things, sadness around letting go of certain people, a lot of business busyness and losing my orientation in the present moment. I am experiencing suffering! We have several complex projects on the go, and anxiety has just crept in as I dart around doing this and that to keep things running smoothly. Yet I know that very recently there have been times when I have been just as busy if not more and remained in a totally calm and more centred place inside. So what has caused this shift in how I am experiencing things?
It just takes a tip in the balance from being aware that I am the ocean (which can easily accommodate all the waves as they arise and disappear), to focusing more on the individual waves and forgetting that I am the ocean. When I forget that I am the whole deep steady massive ocean, and my attention rises to the choppier surface of the individual, I get caught up in the content of waves. Once my attention is at the surface other waves can come and bash me about a bit! These waves can be very attention grabbing, and often are coloured by fears. Fear about things not going smoothly, about not being paid on time, just things like that. Then I feel anxious that something is wrong. That is what we have inherited from evolution, a brain that is composed of an older part and a newer part. The job of that older part of the brain is to be highly sensitised to threat recognition and it is always on the lookout for threats and problems. The newer part of the brain thankfully is able to perform a soothing function. It can put things into perspective, and this is exactly what it is doing for me as I write here.
When each of these potentially troubling thoughts, when noticed, allowed to be, and left in their own place to express do not present an obstacle as they disappear leaving no trace. This is to me the essence of the practice of mindfulness.
I’m struck by how completely different the experience of life is depending on where my inner orientation sits. Life’s situations can be the same and yet I can be happy and at peace or sad and troubled. So now to return to an awareness of the current and flow of being in the Tao. How will I do this?
Well my normal relaxation inducing activities aren’t cutting it at the moment. I have been swimming and been for a walk in nature every day, getting into the countryside at the weekend, and still feel anxious and overwhelmed. I am struggling to take any information in at the moment so reading mindfulness books isn’t really working at the moment to help reorientate. I just feel too full up and need to clear some inner space.
Sometimes the place to start is with something really basic when we are stressed out. So for me perhaps the best thing I can do right now to start off is to create a sense of order around me. My living and working space is the same since I work from home, and there is paperwork, drawings and plans on every surface which is contributing to a feeling of chaos and overwhelm. So this will be today’s task. I will also compose a to do list. And I will clear my physical space of clutter. I will check back in later with a progress update!