Today the list is long, with lots of projects and people to interact with, and decisions to make.
I feel pulled in every direction.
So I step away from the chaos and find a chair in a quiet room. I set my timer for ten minutes. I write out a list of what must be done today. I write detail after detail, small and large, in no particular order, until the timer goes off.
And then I set the timer for ten more minutes.
And just sit, and breathe, and pay attention to my breath.
My meditation teacher says that the breath is the flagpole, and everything else the waving flag.
I sit and find steadiness in the slowing down, the one point focus. A sense of calm fills me up like cool water in a cup.
And I notice all the flags waving in my mind.
They are plentiful, and beautiful, and various. They offer so many wonderful trains of thought to ride out on.
But when I become aware of them, these bright and flashy banners flapping in the inconstant wind, I bring my attention back to breathing in, breathing out, and this moment, now.
Often I have an insight during meditation that feels so strong and compelling I am tempted to jump up and begin working on it immediately. As if, THIS is the point of the meditation, THIS is the insight I have been looking for.
And I have found that it is better for me to stay present for the ten minutes of this awareness practice, and not chase after every idea in the very moment it arises. The awareness itself, and the daily practice itself, is the end game.
Sometimes, when my mind is on overdrive, I simply keep a pen and paper handy and write down the thought quietly, then continue with my meditation.
There it is, to refer back to later, as the day goes on.
I have found that for me getting grounded before launching my kite in the wind is better than running wildly willy nilly.
Though chasing dreams silly nilly worked for me when I was younger, it also undermined my health, and my peace of mind.
I remember a day many years ago when I had worked very hard for a longtime on multiple fronts and had many projects finally up and running, a success by any measure. And yet I felt completely hollow and drained, the opposite of successful.
I couldn’t understand why I felt this way, as everything I had been working for seemed to have come true. I should have felt elated, thrilled, triumphant.
But I had lost something.
I had become completely ungrounded.
It was the deep pain and anguish of that experience that forced me to change my approach.
I believe pain is often a tool, a gift that shows us that what we are doing does not serve us.
Would we change otherwise?
We change to get out of pain.
We change to restore balance.
We change to find happiness.
The more I want to do, the slower I go.
In this way, it becomes clearer to me what is the higher priority. And what can fall to the wayside.
I return to my list, and study it again.
Now I review all of these details from a calmer place, as though a larger portion of my brain is available to me.
And throughout the day, this short – ten minute – pause will be a touchstone to return to, when I have to make a decision, when I am confronted with aggression or defensiveness, when I am in danger of being run of my course.
Finding the flagpole instead of being the flag.