Dog doo. There it is. On the floor. In the living room. On the carpet. Not on the silk rug, thank you, Dog, but on the carpet nearby. What’s my first reaction? I don’t like this. This shouldn’t be happening. I don’t have time for this. What’s wrong with this dog? Or more kindly, Is there something wrong with the dog? Maybe my body tenses up a bit. It’s a little clenching of the jaw. Or of the shoulders, or in my belly.
Office Politics. There they are. On the workplace floor. Where there are people there are politics. What is my reaction to this situation? Someone disagrees with me. Someone agrees with me. Someone wants me to do it differently. I want someone to do it differently. Do I think this shouldn’t be happening? Do I feel my jaw, my shoulder, my belly clench?
Managing Time. Look at all this dog doo in my schedule! What do I do? Where do I start? I’m multi-tasking a mile a minute and getting nowhere. If only I were more efficient. If only my situation didn’t require so much of me. This job is stressful. It shouldn’t be this way. If I stop to notice, I find that something is clenched.
And at the moment I stop to notice, I have a choice. I might now be able to say, “Hmmm…dog doo – or office politics, or time crunch. Better clean it up before someone steps in it. Better clean it up before I step in it myself.” No more thoughts that this shouldn’t be happening. What’s the inspired action that would clean it up? If it’s not clear, can I wait until there is one?
I have one, single, simple, powerful suggestion to take right now: Try not keeping anything out. Try letting it all in. See what happens if you let in the dog doo. It’s there anyway. If you let in the office politics; they’re there anyway. If you accept, surrender, and quit fighting your schedule, your calendar, your congestion of the agenda. And if you find yourself saying “This shouldn’t be happening!” you simply notice that you’re thinking it shouldn’t be happening, and you just interrupt for the moment the thought that you shouldn’t be thinking that this shouldn’t be happening.
When we block out anything, we are blocking out pieces of ourselves. And when we block out pieces of ourselves we are blocking out our joy. Blocking out is blocking out.
Joan Sutherland, Roshi, a Zen Buddhist Roshi, observes that equanimity is keeping pace with your own life.
Have you noticed that sometimes things flow and you get more done than you expected? You aren’t so much bothered by the dog doo or the office politics, or how busy you are, and your world looks easy.
Observe yourself. I bet you’ll notice that these are times when you aren’t blocking anything out. You aren’t expecting one thing and rejecting whatever is not that. You are keeping pace with your life. It may be a fast pace or a slow pace, but you’re okay with it, maybe even loving it.
Do I let everything in 100% of the time? No. Do I do this practice perfectly? Yes, in the sense that I practice when I remember to practice. And practice is perfect.
When you’re ready, you will know what action to take. When you’re ready, your action will be inspired action. If you aren’t inspired – which means you aren’t ready – rest. Or meditate. Or have a brief chat about what is working with someone supportive. Or just breathe. Find a moment of what the poet Tenney Nathanson calls “bonsai spaciousness.” Manage your energy – not the dog doo, the office politics, or your time.
By Jennifer Sellers, MCC (Master Certified Coach)