If you saw the Netflix show Stranger Things, then you’ll get my next analogy about the Void. The Void appears as a vast infinite expanse of black nothing abyss. It is entirely empty and black, except for the character Eleven herself and whatever or whoever she is trying to locate. Next time you meditate, close your eyes and imagine entering the Void within your mind. It’s entirely still and dark. Thoughts will appear in the distance. Observe then and then keep moving. If you get a freaked out, then open your eyes and start again.
This is a refuge inside of your mind, just for you. Your thoughts will still appear, but this isn’t their home, so let go as smoothly as they arrived.
Remember to breathe.
Is there something or someone on your mind, something in the past or a problem you are working through that’s making you anxious? The following exercise won’t answer any specific questions you have or offer up a solution, but it will help you.
Take ten deep breaths through your nose and imagine a field. See it bathed in the late afternoon sun, or maybe it’s early morning, and you can feel the dew under your feet as the sun starts to warm up the ground. Feel the breeze on your face and take note of the different smells.
Now take the problem or memory that’s on your mind and release it into the field. It’s now standing in front of you. Sometimes it’s a person, an event or both. Let the sun shine on it and release it from your mind. Don’t try to solve the problem and don’t intellectualize it. It’s free to go. Give it up to the sun and the warmth of the field. If the person you’ve released wants to come back to you, then gently tell them they are free to go with your blessing and love.
That’s it. It’s an exercise in release and surrendering whatever you are holding onto the field and leaving it there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there – Rumi
Side note: It’s incredible how many people imagine a green field. It’s a little uncanny and cool.
I think AA Milne was tapped into Zen before Zen was a Western thing. His writing is simple and profound at the same time. It reminds me of Rumi who was a 13th-century Sufi mystic and William Blake, the English poet and artist. AA Milne was an author but also a mystic.
Here are my top four lines from Winnie-the-Pooh:
“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
“‘How do you spell love?’
‘You don’t spell it…you feel it.'”
“I think we dream, so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them
“The knowledge I have is not my own. I just know the way to the well.” –@KapilGuptaMD
All our stories and ideas are connected. Nothing is original.
There are different paths to the well. Some trails are well trodden and wide open, some are narrow, hidden and hardly used. The source of the knowledge is the same, we all just get there on a different track.
We end up saying the same thing in a different way.
If you want to wake up early in the morning every day, then go to bed early. Early to bed, early to rise. If you’re going to lose weight, then eat less food. What you put in, is what you get out.
If you want less anxiety about the “breaking news” and less empty calories from cable channels and the news tickers, then don’t watch the news! The critical story will always find you, so don’t worry about missing out.
There’s a difference between being informed vs. being current. A typhoon on the other side of the world is significant because of climate change and appreciating how our species is interconnected, but you don’t need to know about it as it’s happening. Your lizard brain probably thinks there’s a typhoon in your backyard and gets stressed out by the images of rough sees and displaced people. Cable news is appealing directly to your lizard brain. CNN pioneered breaking news, and then post 9/11 it became the standard operating procedure for all cable news channels.
Being too current creates blind spots. People get sucked into how bad the political environment is and start to see everything through that lens from the economy, world hunger, illitracy, child mortality, pollution. Politics aside, we are improving as a species on all these fronts, and it’s good to step back and appreciate that.
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. – Benjamin Franklin
The older you get, the more you value time. How much would you pay to buy back a couple of years when you are in your sixties? Time has less currency to a 25-year-old than a 60-year-old.
The wealthier you become, the more you value simplicity and flexibility. Real wealth isn’t about accumulating stuff, it’s about controlling your time. The freedom to decide how to spend your time each day is priceless. When you are young, you think you are invincible and have all the time in the world. Older, wiser souls value every day and cherish them because they know that buying back time isn’t an option.
As Bill Clinton likes to say, we all get to the point where we have more yesterdays than tomorrows.
I think Otis Redding tapped into this with (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way
So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes
Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home
Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Written by Steve Cropper, Otis Redding • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group
The saying goes that the days are long and the years are short. Five years goes by in a flash.
Take a moment to look back on the last five years and ask yourself what advice you would give your younger self if you could travel back in time and share a meal together. Think about the experience and guidance you would provide. Do the same exercise with a ten-year look back. As a 30-year-old what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? If you are 40 what information would you provide your 30-year-old self?
A couple of insights bubbled up for me when I played this out in my head:
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Take more risks.
Be patient, but don’t hold on too long. Have the guts to know when to leave. Knowing is the easy part. Saying it out loud is the hard part.
Back yourself more. Everyone is making it up as they go.
Learn by doing. Over-analysis will paralyze you.
Don’t be in such a hurry to start a career. The career will find you when you are ready.
Be kind to your body.
Don’t stress so much. There’s only now. Most of the time you land on your feet, and most of the things you worry about are in your head.
Small contributions compound over time. Small acts of kindness, small investments, small tweaks add up.
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Try it. It’s an enlightening exercise