As 2018 comes to a close, I have to say … it’s been a year of depth but also chaos and blessings for me and Zen Habits. I’m grateful for the wonderful readers I have had for more than a decade now (all of you!), and for the journey I’ve been on and will continue in the coming year.
What happens once you drop the ego and drop into a wide open, gentle, loving awareness? Magic. You don’t have to run to comfort and away from discomfort, you don’t have to protect your self-image from others, you don’t have to defend yourself or worry about failure or being judged.
We all go through times of massive change: a divorce, death in the family, change of job (or loss of job), moving to a new home or city, turbulence in your relationships, political chaos, and all kinds of uncertainties and demands on your time and attention. It can be overwhelming and distressing. But what if we could get good at dealing with all kinds of changes? It would open us up in times of change, so that these times can be times of deepening, growth, and even joy.
I was having a discussion with a friend recently who is holding himself back from doing the purposeful work he thinks he wants to pursue. What’s holding him back? Fear of putting himself out there in public. Fear of failure. Fear of being judged. Fear of choosing the wrong path. Fear of not being good enough.
I often get asked about how to remember to be mindful more of the time — how can we remember to not only be present more, but to be compassionate, to drop into our bodies when we’re feeling difficult emotions, to have a beginner’s mind, to relax into the chaos of the moment?
Running gets you where you want to go. Resting reinforces where, how, and why you’re running. Without the grounding that rest provides, you’d eventually run yourself into the ground.
There’s a part of us that wants to find peace from all the chaos in our lives, all the busyness and distractions and complication and stress and overwhelmingness of it all. We want to get away from it all, or get control of everything and create order out of the mess. We want stillness, we want rest, we want peace.
Letting go of our attachment to the outcome is freeing. It helps us to be more present with the doing, the being, the act itself, rather than what might come in the future. It can help us have better relationships, because we’re more focused on the people than the goal.
It happens to all of us: we don’t get done what we hoped to get done, then we feel stressed or guilty about it. It’s time to let that go, because it’s not helping us. We can build resiliency around this, with a little mental training. And it will help us in magical ways.
A friend of mine was telling me about two of the most successful times of his often very scattered life … and they both came when he was very focused on one learning project. Having a single focus really allowed him to grow — not only to deeply learn the topic he was studying, but to grow as a person. He’s been experiencing that kind fo focus recently, picking one project and really giving it his full focus. But his question was this: how should I combine having one clear main project for this year, while also doing lots of other things I want to do? Basically, he wants to create focus and depth in one project, but still maintain his health, business, relationship, and mindfulness practice. It’s a good question.