My daughter, Lily, found a missing piece to our Trouble board game under the couch. Even though we had mere minutes to get her bag ready and make a mad dash to the school bus, it was important to her to put that piece back where it belonged.
I supported her and appreciated the lesson it gave me to always take care of our ‘stuff’ before we get distracted by all the things we have ‘to do’. However, everything in the world is going so fast, it seems as if we no longer have the luxury to pause active lives to pay attention to our psychological and spiritual journeys. The question is: Can we be continually clearing the ‘gunk’ in our mind, bodies and psyches, and still be on time for the bus?
Staying out of trouble
The reason this struck me this way was a conversation I had with some dear friends. One friend was feeling as though she can either be in a calm meditative state or be responsible and get all her chores and errands done. She was becoming increasingly stressed about all she had to accomplish and the people she had to disappoint because she did not have enough time for everything. And then she was frustrated that this didn’t feel as good as her meditative state.
As the conversation continued we wondered whether calmness and productivity indeed had to be mutually exclusive. After lots of brainstorming, we finally concluded that not only can a state of calm (what we coined as “being in the flow”) continue when we are taking action, but the potential for efficiency and productivity exponentially expands.
Act with awareness
When we act with awareness and stay in our bodies, we can be in the flow. Instead of finding ourselves frazzled, worrying about the next thing we have to do. We noticed that this worry takes a great deal of energy. Thus it would be taking away from what we were presently doing. Also, this anxiety leaves us vulnerable to self doubt and self judgment, both which severely zap precious energy.
Additionally, when we use energy to worry about what we have to do (perhaps over and over and by the time we set time aside to do it) we are exhausted and sometimes there is no energy left to do the actual task by the time we get to it. Our mind feels like we’ve done it several times. I know when I am in the flow (accomplishing things with a peaceful consciousness rather than being frazzled, worried, and judgmental) I get so much more done and rarely feel exhausted afterwards.
When I am doing things while frazzled, I forget things, make unexpected messes, lose things, and get less done, and then, I feel exhausted and horrible about myself.
This reminds me of another conversation I was having with a smart middle school student who was experiencing severe worry when people around her were sad. Her caring intentions were obvious and admirable. She has a beautiful heart. Since, her desire to help the sad person was so important, the conversation began with us exploring the ways the worry might be affecting her potential to help. We noticed that it in fact limited her from doing just this.
Worry bring you down into trouble yourself
For example, worry is like putting negative energy towards a person. Watch Love Up Instead of Worrying Down. Why would we want to do that? Worry can make someone feel judged and guilty, as if “My sadness is not OK” or “It’s not worth bothering others.” An alternative is sending the person “light and love”. Like Richard from Texas says to do in Eat, Love, Pray. This is like believing in their goodness, knowing the sadness is OK and being confident that they can get through it. It is full acceptance without judgment.
She and I both thought of it from the sad person’s perspective. It seemed like receiving worry could bring us down and receiving love and belief in our goodness would lift us up. We then looked at what stress the worry was bringing into her life. And, I wondered what it would be like for her to love someone instead of worrying about them.
My young friend could immediately answer that this would make her feel much better: A win-win situation. But let’s not limit it there, since it could even spread beyond us and those we help, like the ripple effect. Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, ad infinitum.
Worry stop you
Worry is the opposite of being in the present moment, being conscious, being in love. It separates us from our skills and knowledge so that we feel disconnected with ourselves. Worry has our ‘game pieces’ all over the house, hidden under the furniture, so we cannot find them. Then, we end up having to deal with Trouble without a full deck. If we are present, aware and loving, it takes seconds to put the piece back in the box. We can stay in the flow and never miss the bus.