As life spins, turns, and tumbles as it will, it is sometimes difficult to remain centered. We are angered by cruelty and violence. We are torn between our ambitions and the construction of our fortresses against the storms. We walk the line in work-life balance as we prioritize our families above our clients, yet try to remain a good protector and servant to all.
Remaining at peace is not just an effort during the storms. Sometimes, we see little patches of sunlight where we expected darkness and our hearts break out into song. The song is good and wonderful, but in our singing we sometimes set up the expectation of daylight flooding the entire world… and if that does not happen, we crash and burn against the expectations that blinded us.
Most of the time, the “bad times” are nothing more than burning expectations. Bliss and love always seek us while we remain mindful and open.
Here are three easy approaches to centeredness that might help you stay seated.
1. Give your ego a list, not a schedule or your mind.
As you wander through your relationships, businesses, and creative efforts, dump all the random ideas and desires that you have into a giant list. Write them down, keep them prioritized, and forget about them. Avoid giving them dates, and you avoid crashing into expectations. Avoid worrying at them with the teeth of your mind, and you avoid gnawing away the beauty and happiness of the current moment.
This is not as contrary to the standards of productivity and efficiency as it might first seem. Proper project management talks a lot about milestones, deadlines, and deliverables, so it is easy to start approaching all the “projects” in your life in that way. I have managed a lot of projects, though, and let me tell you – the expectations set at the beginning of the project are just ideals, and they frequently get in the way of making the best possible product. In terms of your relationships, businesses, and creative efforts, it is far better to focus on the best possible outcome than it is to obsess over a timetable that you are imposing on yourself.
You can be diligent without constantly remembering all your various goals. You can have a great work ethic by constantly whittling away at your ever-growing list. And your ego can stop whispering and shouting at you, satisfied entirely by knowing that its latest obsession is neatly on that list.
2. Work in your rhythms.
Your body and mind have natural rhythms. Sometimes, your body is full of energy while your mind is slow. Other days, your mind is full of passion for expression while your body is hollow with pain or fatigue. Even during a single day, these various levels shift.
In our culture, people are expected to grit their teeth and push through it. That makes some sense when it comes down to the effort of a minute or an hour, but doing that for days or weeks on end will cause disease. When your body is full and mind empty, find physical work. When your body is empty and mind full, find creative work. When both are empty, seek rest and contemplation. It is as simple as that and profoundly important, although both you and other people might be irritated by the collapsed expectations.
3. Give priority over to the divine.
Strive to always remember that your personal objectives are secondary considerations. Your time in this place is mainly about the life lessons that are presented to you. Difficult people and circumstances arise so that you can meet and integrate parts of yourself that you have forgotten. The forms of love endlessly transform so that you learn to have faith in the Beloved, who cares for you and is helping you to be created. You are given a thousand forms of spiritual instruction every day to dissipate the darkness of ignorance.
Whatever goals you might have for your home, business, body, or mind are hobbies only. When a guest comes into the house of your life, that guest has come as the Beloved to visit the Beloved. You are to put away your hobbies and attend to the guest, always. Sweeping the hall and ordering new curtains will have to wait.
Whatever name you might try to give the Beloved – God, the universe, karma, your subconscious, whatever – He is the guardian spirit of your inner garden.
Above all, establish silence and stillness.
Silence and stillness are not approaches to centeredness… they are centeredness, or at least the ground from which that flower grows. If you do not find time in your life for regular meditation, prayer, or simple sitting in scenes of beauty, these approaches to centeredness will stop short of equanimity. There can be no happiness or faith without silence and stillness. There can be no centeredness until you can sit companionably with yourself.
May your days be blessed.