If you watch your mind, you will see that it goes into the past or future all day long. It especially loves to go into the future and when it really gets activated, it moves from a whole different place. It will convince you that that you can’t do it right, or you can’t do it at all, or something bad is going to happen, and the thoughts go on and on. These thoughts are just not true because we don’t know what is going to happen. All we have is this present moment, but you can begin to see how the mind operates. The more you push, the more it pushes back because when it is given the impossible task of being in charge of life, it amps up its efforts.
Stephen Levine, author and one of the important mentors on my journey of awakening, taught me “Just This Much,” a wonderful mantra that I use when my fear-based mind gets triggered. These three little words remind me that when I take care of just this moment, the other moments will take care of themselves, and then I can relax into the process of life. The mind desperately wants to be in control because it doesn’t see that what is in charge is Love. It doesn’t see this because it believes it is separate. It gets all sorts of ideas about how life should be and then when something occurs that is different than how the mind thinks it should be, we go to war with ourselves.
Whenever my mind thinks it needs to be in control, I am reminded of the carpet beetle story. Several years ago, I was scheduled to fly to Denmark for a retreat, and I had arranged for my son to bring me to the airport at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. In the late afternoon on Tuesday, I discovered I had carpet beetles in my bedroom. Although these creatures don’t hurt people, they do eat fabric. I had set aside just enough time on Wednesday for packing and other things in preparation for my trip, but, of course, I had not planned my day around cleaning the carpet and washing every single bit of fabric in my bedroom. When I went to bed Tuesday night, my mind began projecting into the future, telling me there is no way I can get it all done. “What if I don’t have time to clean the house? What if the carpet beetles multiply? What if they eat all of my furniture? What if I miss my flight? What if this … what if that?” As my mind was moving into resistance and struggle, I stepped back and became the observer of all these thoughts. Then I began to get curious about what was showing up and reminded myself of the mantra Stephen had taught me, “Just This Much.”
Saying the mantra when I woke up Wednesday morning helped me to settle into the fact that I can only do what I can do, and life will take care of the rest. As I got ready to work on the carpet beetles, I reminded myself that whatever is showing up today is exactly what needs to be here. So, I washed the carpet, ripped the bedroom apart, and did many loads of laundry. It seemed like when I finished one thing, I turned around and there was something else that needed to be done. I realized that my head was not doing any of it. I was just showing up for the dance. I finished the last thing that needed my attention at two minutes before 2 p.m. and was out the door when my son arrived to pick me up. It had all unfolded exactly as it was meant to be and I didn’t have to figure it out because life figured it out for me.
The poor little mind thinks it is in charge and it has to do it all and do it right. “Just This Much” reminds us that life is in charge and our job is to relax into the process as much as we can and be curious about what is here. As we become the awareness, we can see what is happening rather than being caught in its whirlwind. We can say hello to the scared one and then relax into this moment, and trust that all of the other moments will take care of themselves. Life is a trustable process.
Have you ever had a situation when it all seemed too much, and instead of giving up, you just gave in and did one thing at a time and somehow it all got done? How did that feel?
Image – “Runaway Bestseller” – Book Collage on Paper by Santa Fe Artist Melinda Tidwell www.melindatidwell.com