18 May 2014
What is the right, most appropriate way to act?
This question occupies me. For example, you might have noticed there was no newsletter last month. Why didn't I write one? I could say: I didn't have time, I couldn't think what to write, I had competing priorities. All of these are true. But still, why didn't I make time? Why didn't I prioritise my newsletter and write it?
I became preoccupied. I became caught up with thoughts that other things were more important, and got captured by these thoughts. I forgot to come up for air, as one of my meditation teachers would put it. I forgot to look around, and, with quiet awareness, make a choice. Rather I allowed the choice to seemingly be made for me by circumstances.
So to begin to answer this question of what is the most appropriate way to act, I point to the role of awareness. Our awareness is often captured by smaller parts of ourselves. These parts operate in pairs. For example, an internal conversation that might happen at 6.00am - "I really should go to the gym now," versus "It's comfortable dozing in this nice warm bed". The argument between these two can go on for a while, by which time I haven't actually dozed in a satisfying way, nor have I gone to the gym. And now it's time to get up and get ready to go to work.
When I get pre-occupied I get hooked into these internal arguments, which means not a lot gets done, or priorities get diverted by seemingly important things, that, when reexamined, aren't really that important.
So, what could I have done that meant I wrote a newsletter last month? It would have first necessitated me noticing I was preoccupied. I was sort of aware my mind was busier than usual, but I didn't stop and step back. That's step 1, stop and step back, and observe. What's happening here? What arguments are going on inside of me?
Step 2 is to engage that part of me that wants the best for me. This is the part that wants me to grow, to flourish, to be happy. We all know this part. It's the part that is present when we're on a bush walk, and we see a beautiful view across a valley, and we just know that stopping, even if just for a moment, to enjoy that glorious sight is absolutely right. No argument.
That part of me feels spacious and warm and unhurried.
Step 3 is to acknowledge the various arguments going on inside from that part that is spacious and warm hearted. From spaciousness acknowledge that these different priorities and viewpoints all have a valid point of view. It's just that these points of view are blinkered to varying degrees - they don't take in the broader picture.
From the broader picture that is spacious and quiet, ask what is the right thing to do? If you're not sure, wait and see what emerges. It is from this quiet, observing space that you flourish and grow.
Now, having waited for the answer to emerge, it is time to act. That's why you are receiving this newsletter. I stopped, and observed, and saw that in writing this and sharing with you, a part of me flourishes. I enjoy making time to communicate with others; but sometimes I lose sight of this.
I hope you will notice what makes you flourish this month and take action on it. And if you have any questions or feedback, I would love to hear from you.