Doing stuff the Zen way.

“Do more than you think you can, but not as much as Conditioned ego thinks you should.” – Cheri Huber

She may not have invented that saying but she is the one I first heard say it. The saying comes in slightly different forms and content but it points to the same process. Sometimes we wrestle with the things we want to accomplish and either force ourselves to exhaustion or we don’t do as much as we “should” and ego beats us up for being lazy.

People often ask how one can be sure? What I find truthful is when I am working or playing there will be a moment when I have completed what I am capable of for that period of time. There is no question or second guessing. I can move from whatever I am doing and perhaps move to the next thing or relax.

That finding came with a lot of challenges. I was definitely that type A driven person who had to excel at everything or not do anything at all if I was haunted by thoughts that I couldn’t do it perfectly. Everything I did came with that hint of desperation and the “driven to achieve” feelings. Know what? Even when I felt like I completed something under that model I still had that little voice that said, “You should keep going, it’s not done yet or it needs to be better.” Lots of lost sleep on that one.

So what to do? Well, if your going to engage in a project a good way to stay in balance is to give yourself X amount of time and engage with all the passion you can within that parameter. That works well at the monastery and on retreats. If you need to accomplish a task that needs a block of time here are some suggestions.

Drink water and stay hydrated.

Eat snacks every two hours. You will not run indefinitely without blood sugar. That’s a fact. I used to work four to six hours at a stretch and not drink or eat. You can imagine how frazzled and numb I would become.

Breath. This one sounds self evident but I find I get caught up in stuff and end up in my head. My world becomes super narrow and I lose access to the greater picture. So take a time out every so often and take four deep breaths and walk away from what you are doing for a minute. You will find you will benefit in the long run.

Walk around if you are sitting, sit down if you are standing. This makes a big difference even for a few minutes. It lets your body know you didn’t forget it.

Time: give yourself an appropriate amount of time to process and find that spot that feels complete. The whole thing will start out challenged if you don’t have adequate time.

If you do these things chances are you will remain in awareness of you while you are engaged in your project. You won’t lose you in the entire process and subject yourself to suffering.

I mentioned feeling complete. That’s important. You will find a place in the process where the mind says “Hey, this is complete right now.” Lock on that. It means that the project may not be “done yet” but it means that you used all the resources available for right now. Move away and re-engage later or the next day.

This is about using your resources wisely and efficiently. It’s about using your intelligence and genuine self to apply yourself to projects in a mode of compassion and caring. Not about the Ego wants things to get done and at the same time be perfect. We can all do without that voice that keeps driving us to succeed and be perfect. Being human is more than enough!

So the next time you find yourself wanting to accomplish a task or project try setting it up with the above information in mind. Experiment and find what works in a compassionate and caring way.

Big Bow to you.


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