At the start of Awareness, Anthony deMello shares the secret divulged by all mystics of all faiths,
[A]ll is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
I started writing a little list of various troubles – not great ones, but small ones – afflicting me at the moment:
- The looming government shutdown does not bother me as much as the deadend nature of my job. Updating my LinkedIn and resume are dutifully done. There is not much to look forward to.
- I continue to put off dealing with my long-term finances, a delay that I’m sure will bite me later.
- My Time Capsule and an external drive have both decided to pack it in – I now have no backups of my iMac.
- Squarespace promises a lot but in many small ways it disappoints.
- My office, which I’d tidied just last week, is now a mess.
- And on and on…
If deMello is right – and let’s assume he is – then all is well.
My job, my computer, my office, my finances, my health – they are my nightmare. They are real and cause anxiety only as long as I am in the dream.
But don’t they call out to me? Don’t I have these serious feelings to let me know that action must be taken?
Maybe. I find myself saying “We’ll see” a lot more lately.
Sometimes the best thing to do in an emergency, is nothing. My external drive is flaking probably because of something I tried without knowing what would happen.
First – particularly when we’re dealing with the physical world – do no harm. Don’t make things worse by taking unnecessary, thoughtless, fearful reactive action. If what looks to be a problem is just a nightmare, I could be making things worse.
One of my coaches, Mary Schiller, posted a video emphasizing one of her basic points: don’t take your thinking seriously. Don’t take your feelings personally. Our experience of life is bigger than our little thoughts, bigger than our overwhelming feelings.
Don’t get stuck there.
As deMello says later in that passage,
Waking up is unpleasant. It’s irritating to be woken up…Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.
So how am I dealing with these – let’s call them “situations”?
I am copying the files that can be copied from my external drive to my iMac. I will go to work tomorrow. I will put a few things away to keep my office tidy.
When I don’t engage with the nightmare and fret about how awful it is, ideas come to me in the quiet. I try them out. I get more ideas.
I wake up a little before going back to sleep.