Peace of Mind

The Practice of Enough

 

As I’m coming up on my birthday, my thoughts turn to plans, resolutions, assessments.  What can I do in my next year to move myself ahead, meet my goals, check things off my list, get better?  If I’m honest though, this is a common refrain in my thoughts.  Walking through my house my eyes light on every unfinished task.  Sitting to meditate I suddenly remember emails I need to respond to.  I step out for a walk and think, “This is wonderful.  I really need to do this more often.” — and in a flash I’m busy arranging and rearranging my schedule in my mind, and stressing myself out trying to figure out how to juggle it all.

Enough!  The Buddha defined Wisdom this way: A wise person is someone who avoids doing things that bring harm to herself or others, and does things that bring benefit to herself and others.  I’m struck by the perfect simplicity of this statement.  But it also points to an interesting insight.  The first step is to let go, do less.  When faced with a problem, we often approach it by adding something — a strategy, a plan, a treat, a punishment, or maybe the next new miracle thing.  When faced with a sense of not-enough — disappointment, self-doubt, discomfort — we might scramble to fill the void.  If you’ve ever determined to wake up early and practice yoga every day, you probably realized that adding more without letting something drop doesn’t set us up for peace of mind or steady practice.

I’m sure you know that the path to happiness is not to acquire everything you want and make sure its perfectly arranged.  But did your mind get the message?  Problem-solving, schedule-planning, and self-improvement can become habitual activities that distract us from the moment, and capture us in a self-imposed whirl of always more to do, more to become, more hurdles before we can finally rest.

Enough!  We’re not going to puzzle our way out of this.  One of the most freeing realizations is that instead of needing to solve the problem, you can drop the belief that there is a problem in the first place.  Notice the natural moments through the day of pause, gap, emptiness, nothing happening.  These are the moments a human being decides to check one or two more things off the to-do-list, and a dog decides to sit down and hang out.  Settle.  Remind yourself: there is nothing needed in this moment, nothing to fix or figure out, nothing you need to change or become.  There is already enough.

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