Zen Life: every­thing is unique. In other words, we deal with every­thing one-at-a-time (like putting on your pants, one leg at a time…) Nothing applies to other things.

"Nothing like really seeing… “

next_stepIt’s nice being in step

1. Do it Now

Procrastination is deadly. The odd part is that the most deadly vari­ety tends to be being proac­tive in other areas. For exam­ple, I’ve worked with people who come in with a short list of issues – say, want­ing things to be better with their career, and also want­ing a better rela­tion­ship with their part­ner. They throw them­selves into the work issue, and may even create some success. But the rela­tion­ship stuff seems to fall off the radar.

Then, of course, a relationship problem re-emerges.

Here’s the odd part. Rather than throw them­selves into the rela­tion­ship with aban­don equal to what they created with their career, they make excuses. Or, rather, point to their success in other areas. "But… but… I’m doing so well with my career!"

Zen Living: every­thing is unique. In other words, we deal with every­thing one-at-a-time (like putting on your pants, one leg at a time…) Nothing applies to other things. You must work on each thing, and be vigi­lant all the time.

It’s quite easy to pick the "fun-est" thing first, and then get so trans­fixed by it that the other stuff falls to the wayside. Or, to work on some­thing, get the results you want, and assume that "things" will just look after them­selves. The truth is that this work requires both patience and dili­gence.

2. Practice

This flows out of the first point, and I suspect we might bene­fit from proac­tive prac­tice. In other words, rather than hoping that things will go "OK," that we actively look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to chal­lenge ourselves. And the "thing" we have to work with is our life. Or more specif­i­cally, the issues that arise. After all, any moron can be success­ful… when noth­ing is going wrong.

Most people get to a certain comfort level with this work, and then slow down or stop. Example: They have a dialogue with a friend or part­ner, amd discover much to talk about, and then find a topic or a direc­tion that raises a few hack­les (in them, or their part­ner reacts to the topic,) so that’s where they stop – they pull back one step from the "juice."

Zen living: perhaps, the place to be living is on the "shaky side" of every line. If certain topics are scary or chargy, talk about those things. I find it fun, when talk­ing with friends, to notice their discom­fort, and to say some­thing like, "I can see that you don’t want to talk about this, so would you like to talk about talk­ing about it?"

Running away, avoid­ing, danc­ing around – all are ways to stay stuck in the drama, while excus­ing your­self. No excuses! Just see each thing as one more thing – one more way to bring your­self into the Now.

skating alongFreely float­ing to your own beat

3. "Free Your Mind, the Rest Will Follow" – The Band

Letting go of your mind’s domi­nance is the most diffi­cult part of the Zen path, or any path of self aware­ness. The mind is sticky and slip­pery, and much of it is highly invested in main­tain­ing the story you tell your­self.

Stories are the currency of the mind. We think we know who we are, and believe our own press releases about how the world is. Many are the clients who tell them­selves all kinds of provoca­tive tales – how hard done by they are, how their near­est and dear­est are taking advan­tage of them, how they have no choice when they act like spoiled chil­dren. It’s as if, just because they’ve looked at things one way since they were 16, they MUST look at things that way until they die.

There is noth­ing "true" about any of the stories you tell your­self. Now, sure, you were born, had parents, and stuff happened and contin­ues to happen. None of your stories about your life, (about the details – about "what happened") however,are anything other than what you’ve chosen to believe to support your precon­ceived notion.

Zen living: things are as they are, until they aren’t. Getting your shorts in a knot, or acting like a spoled brat, is just one more mind game.

Freeing your mind really means free­ing your­self from your mind’s grip. Life is diffi­cult, and telling your­self stories about how really, really bad it all is does noth­ing regard­ing deal­ing with the the actual living out of your days. If you choose to let go of the story-telling, you can simply make choices, act, and eval­u­ate, then act again. Once you mind is freed to resolve what "is," "the rest just follows."

4. Happiness is not the point. Integrity, freedom, and presence is.

We are a "happi­ness rules" culture, and that’s odd, because virtu­ally no one is actu­ally happy. People seem hell-bent on being happy "some day, when all the ducks line up, if the creek don’t rise…" Chasing after some ephemeral goal called happi­ness keeps us buying more, judg­ing every­thing as lack­ing, and blam­ing others for the dissat­is­fac­tion.

This relates to point # 3 – story­telling. If you see the moment for what it is, you also recog­nize that most of us live our lives just fine, moment to moment – the trou­ble comes with the stories we tell ourselves. Our judge­ments about self, others, and circum­stances, all of which is neutral, add the dynamic for our unhap­pi­ness.

Zen living: as you bring your­self, again and again, into pres­ence, you start to see that mostly there is not much going on, and precious little to do, other than to be there for your life. Getting bent out of shape – typi­cally over the behav­iour of others (code for "They are not doing it the right way!" – mean­ing, your way) is quite the waste of time. Your opin­ion is just that – yours – and no one cares.

Drop the need to judge your life as lack­ing, and immerse your­self fully into the Now.

boredYou’re always beside your­self, look­ing in, look­ing out

5. Take time to experience

Stepping back from the mind’s chat­ter can be quite discon­cert­ing. Without all of that distrac­tion, what ends up being left is sensa­tion. The flow of life-force. Breath. This can either be star­tling, scary, boring, or inter­est­ing.

The point to briskly step­ping next to your mind is to open your­self to the endless flow of sensa­tion. You suddenly can hear, and see, and feel, and in this process of being, you come into the actual expe­ri­ence of what’s up. Now, most of the time, your mind will pop in and start judg­ing or complain­ing. "Here’s what you ought to be doing, feel­ing, think­ing!" And away you go from the expe­ri­ence to the mental games.

Zen living: use your breath to bring your­self back into your body, and then simply feel and hear and see. Be at one with your­self. Have your feel­ings, expe­ri­ence your expe­ri­ences, and then… wait for it… go with the flow to the next thing.

You’ll notice a reluc­tance to fully immerse your­self into the flow and feel of life, as if feel­ing is a "bad thing." Have another breath, and go with it. Soon, you toler­ance for being fully alive and fully present will grow. You, in a sence, become immersed in living, as opposed to living your life one step removed.

And remem­ber, every­thing new has the poten­tial to be scary. Do it anyway!

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s arti­cle sit with you? What ques­tions do you have? Leave a comment or ques­tion!

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