Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Posts Tagged ‘coping with stress

There is Stress

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There will always be Stress. That is because Stress is a normal and natural part of the universe. There has always been Stress. Just the fact that we live on a ball of dirt and water, hurtling through space with gravity gluing us to its surface–is Stress. We might as well get used to it. But that doesn’t mean we have to continuously suffer from it.

The Problem with Stress is that we internalize it. We worry about it. We open our mind and allow it to come inside, where it proceeds to gnaw at us without mercy. The human mind has been doing that since we lived in trees. The answer to the Stress Problem is to NOT internalize it. Isn’t that easy?

Ah yes, that’s so easy to say, but not so easy to do. So, let’s break it down and make it a bit easier to do. “Internalizing” some external thing in our life actually and simply means “thinking about it.” If you think about it, you are internalizing it. If you don’t think about it, you’re not internalizing it.

This is where so many people say, “But not thinking about it means I’m just running away from the problem.” Thus, based on their idea of being mature and responsible, they think. And think, and think. And wear themselves out by thinking. Like a rat in a roundhouse, running around and around. Which is is a terrible form of self-torment, agony, suffering, and self-abuse.

Therefore, your clear solution to Stress is not thinking about whatever you have to worry about. Or, better yet, controlling your thinking machine so that it only worries when you want it to. I advise people to write down everything they are worried about, and then study that list for one hour at 7 p.m. Or at 10 a.m. in the morning. Or maybe for a half hour at noon. Whatever gives you the feeling that you’re being “responsible.” The rest of the time you have my permission to not think about all that stuff.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

April 22, 2019 at 10:25 am

Take What You Want, Take What You Need

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The practice of Zen meditation is self-administered and self-regulating. There’s nobody telling you what to do. You might increase your practice—or maybe even neglect it for a while—depending on what’s happening in your life. There is no guilt associated with how much or how little you practice. You just take what you need.

I’ve noticed that many of my church-going friends need a certain amount of regulation. They need to be told what they should do. And they even appear to need to feel guilty when they don’t do it. I imagine carrying the guilt for a while makes them feel even better when they finally do get to church. That’s okay with me. I accept what they need, and I certainly have no interest in trying to change them.

My purpose in life, as was given to me, is to give others who ask for it what I was given. I like that. I like that I was not instructed to go forth and be a disciple to save the world. Or any kind of religious nonsense. I don’t have to be a missionary. I don’t have to recruit people into a belief system. For years now, all I’ve done in fulfillment of my challenge is write this blog and publish a few books. Once in a while somebody shows up and wants some coaching with their meditation. No problem.

If a Zen practitioner’s life gets tough, he or she will increase the length and number of meditations. And when things are going smoothly, a practitioner is likely to slack off a bit, maybe just to enjoy life a bit more. After all, Zen encourages a moderate amount of responsible hedonism. Interestingly, some practitioners develop their own need to meditate daily. That’s okay; take as much as you want.

Now, aren’t you glad you don’t have to come here once a week and listen to me preach?

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

January 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm