Is It Time to Think?
When it is time to think, we should think. When it is time for the mind to shut up, we should learn to shut up. Being able just to be still and shut up is a facility that just about every creature on the face of the earth has. Humans seem to have lost that ability—even in our sleep we are constantly agitated. Meditation is one opportunity to really come to rest.
In Zen training, when we get the surface mind quiet, a lot of the deeper stuff that we do not want to think about begins popping up. We have been talking to ourselves to avoid these painful thoughts and feelings, and when the mind becomes calm, we begin to be aware of them. But through zazen we develop a way of dealing with what we have been avoiding: we look at it—without analyzing or judging, we acknowledge it, let go of it, and go back to the breath. John Daido Loori’s “Getting to the Bottom of Stress,” in In the Face of Fear.
I subscribe to daily inspiration from Shambala Publications. This is the one I received today and I find it particularly apt.
Thinking too much is harmful to our health. When we are thinking, is it about the past or the future? If so, then we’re not living. We’re dreaming about events that are a shadow. Although the future is ahead of us, we usually worry about the past. How can you correct the past? Only by living in the present moment. It’s called mindfulness in practice.
Living in Mindfulness means we take each event, each moment and live it to the fullest. We do not struggle for things or situations we do not have and we don’t fight the ones that come to us naturally, without struggle. Having spent a great part of my life fighting the world, wanting situations to happen that were beyond my control, I can attest to the fact that worry and exorbitant energy put behind wanting something is a waste of life.
I remember trying to get into a juried art quilt show at the University of Michigan. I received a letter back thanking me but explaining that my pieces of work did not fit their “idea” for the show. It was devastating at the time. There wasn’t any support from my “friends” either. When I mentioned it to one of them and how sad I was, she said they only wanted people like her who had published a book! I could not believe it. She forgot to add that she may have published a book but she didn’t design quilts and she didn’t make them at all. So what would she have sent? Pictures of her book?
I quit trying with the juried shows. When I landed on PEI my son and I went to Charlottetown on some errand or another. We saw a beautiful building with an art gallery sign on it. We went in and the woman asked if she could help me. I explained that I was just checking out the competition. She asked what I did. I told her art quilts. She immediately said she would love to see them and carry them in her gallery. I went on to say I sold antique quilts – well, she wanted to sell those too.
This was the most marvelous thing that happened to me on the Island. My work sold, the antique quilts sold and I was happy. Up until I got audited by Revenue Canada for reporting my GST. See I knew I was supposed to do that on items I brought into the country to sell. I shouldn’t have done it. That kicked in the audit and they wanted to go to the gallery and see my work. She told me not to allow them to do that. Which meant I probably wasn’t going to get off the hook for around $8K. Now I didn’t have $8K to be paying Revenue Canada and all the GST collected on the sales were collected and reported by her gallery. I had nothing to do with the taxes on the sales. I just got my percentage (which I had to fight to keep higher than what she took) and that was that.
I lost any desire to continue to sell my work there. Her husband called and talked to my husband and said he didn’t want our friendship to end because of this. It had ended already.
Finally everything worked out fine. I was audited and passed. I didn’t have to pay the $8K. I also never sold another thing in that gallery. I learned a lesson about over thinking. I found out reporting the GST wasn’t necessary for me. I could have skipped all the worry and heartache.
I try not to think (read that worry) now. I worried enough while my late husband was living. I worried about him, our son, getting enough money for food, paying what bills I could without working because there was no one but me to take care of him.
My life is simpler now, because I don’t worry. If I catch myself at it, I return to the moment. I recognize what I am doing in that moment and do it with my full attention centered on it.