Coach’s Challenge for 4/13/09
Good day, team,
It’s spring again out at our place in the Columbia River Gorge, and buds are busting out all over. The daffodils are just beginning their final nods, the balsam root and lupine are waking up, and the lilacs buds are beginning to show their purple flowers.
As I sat on the porch yesterday admiring the renewal of life in this beautiful place, a small grey digger squirrel darted out in front of me. These tiny pests are the bane of anyone’s existence out here. They’re not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but scrawny and beady-eyed, and they wreak havoc wherever they can. One weekend last year, we came out to the ranch to discover the front lawn was covered with pink stuff that looked like cotton candy. It was fiberglass insulation the grey diggers had pulled out from under the house and played with just for fun!
Anyway, back to my moment on the porch. That pesky little grey digger reminded me of my own mind. That is, there I was, sitting peacefully, enjoying the moment, but at any time, some pesky thought could arise that wanted my attention. If I wasn’t careful and followed that thought, the next thing I knew, I wouldn’t be in that moment anymore: I’d follow that grey digger-like thought right down into some nasty little hole that might be hard to get out of once I was in there.
I often tell my clients, “The part of you that is observing your thoughts is not of them.” So if I’m sitting there peacefully, and I see a thought pop up that wants to distract me, I have about a nanosecond to decide not to follow it. I can say instead, “Nope, you nasty little thought, I’m not going to give you any attention, I’m not going to follow you. I’m going to sit right here and be in this moment, and you can just keep going without me.” Believe it or not, if I catch it before it catches me, the thought usually just disappears into thin air. And that’s the funny part: It came out of thin air to begin with.
Not giving your thoughts so much power is a liberating experience. After attending many silent retreats, I’ve learned this truth over and over again. When you go on a silent retreat, you make an agreement with yourself. No matter what comes up, you just stay seated and you watch. And you watch and you watch, and you breathe, and you itch sometimes, and you weep sometimes, and you just stay in silence. Pretty soon, the thoughts that come up and try to lure you away just disappear, and the the itches go away, and the tears go away, and the anxiety, and the anger, and the sadness and the joy: It all just rises up and passes away.
So this week my challenge is to remember what I’ve learned about the tricks my mind likes to play on me and to stay silent and not let the thoughts take me away from where I am. I offer you this challenge as well. Try staying silent for a few moments each day and watch. Try not to react to everything that wants your attention. Stay calm and centered in yourself. Try not to give yourself away to every little thing that comes up and wants all your energy.
Remarkably, life will continue on just fine without your having to comment on every part of it. In your silence, you’ll discover a well of love and safety within yourself that cannot be disturbed by anyone or anything unless you let it.
Let the grey diggers try to create havoc! I’ll not have it, at least not this week.
Have a peaceful week,
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