Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress

So you work long hours and are stressed out. It’s work you love, perhaps, but still hard work, and still lots of stressors. Maybe you get to take some good breaks during the day, maybe you take weekends off, maybe you get some great vacations.

But the fact remains: no matter what kind of breaks and vacations you take, much of your life is spent doing the hard work, and stressed out. You need to be able to simultaneously work and be on vacation. This is the practice of Zen Mind that we’re talking about — letting go and being able to breathe and smile in the middle of a stressful workday.

It’s only stressful, of course, because of stuff we’re making up in our heads. So if we can create a constant practice of awareness and letting go, we constantly let go of the stress.

Your boss dumps a new project on you with a close deadline. Yikes! You’re instantly stressed. Notice, and let go. Breathe. Feel the stress floating away as you let go of an ideal and an expectation. You are now free, and you can just do the first task — after all, that’s all you can ever do.

Your coworker or client is mad at you, and yelling at you. This is highly stressful. Until you realize that they are probably yelling for some problem that’s not really about you — they are stressed out, they are having a bad day, they have problems dealing with stress. And you are holding onto the expectation that everyone around you should behave perfectly, which of course is an absurd fantasy. You let go of that, and reach out in your heart to this fellow human being who isn’t happy. How can you make things better for this person, with an open heart?

Your son is stressing you out because he’s not doing what he should be doing. You’re mad! Why can’t he just do what you ask? Of course, this is a fantasy. Your kids (or friends, or spouse) are not going to live up to these expectations you have of how they should behave — these expectations aren’t anything real, just fantasies. You can’t control their behavior — wanting to do so just stresses you out. So let go of that expectation and the desire to control, and the stress goes away. Instead, open your heart, and be open to who they are.

OK, so that’s all easier said than done. In the real world, it takes a lot of practice. We often forget about this process when things hit the fan. That’s OK. Life is a constant practice. Keep practicing, and let go of wanting to be perfect at it. Just in the attempt, you’re already perfect.

From ZenHabits

Image by Glynnis McDaris

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