What do you do when things aren’t going the way you want them to? If you’re feeling blue, furious, hopeless, enraged, how do you handle those emotions? Do you curl up in bed with the covers over your head? Eat a pint of mint chocolate chip? Practice deep breathing? There are probably as many ways to deal with negative feelings as there are people on this planet.
Me? I like to sweat, sing, and vent to friends. And while those things help, I have also tried to find some kind of motto, maxim, or mantra (why do all those words start with M?!) that I can repeat to myself to help focus my thinking and calm my mind and heart.
I’ve used a few over the years, but they’ve never seemed quite right. As an example, I like the idea of “go with God,” but what if you’re an atheist? “Go with the universe” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. “One day at a time” is another good one, but still not quite what I need.
My friend Tanya started a website, Zen of Tanya. (She even interviewed me!) And last week, she posted something that really struck a chord in me. In honor of our recent American holiday, she wrote about freedom. And in that post she talked about the Zen concept of Mind Like Water. I’ll let her explain it to you:
Water is the ultimate representation of zen – put something in the way and water will simply flow around it. Contain it and it will either continue to fill that container until it overflows, or slowly escape by evaporating and rejoining the waters of the world through the cycle that governs all water – regardless of form.
I love this! This is motto/maxim/mantra I’ve been waiting for! I want to have a Mind Like Water, to have something put in my way and let my mind and heart simply flow around it. And this isn’t just about the minor, everyday annoyances of life, like that person driving slow in the passing lane or no open swim lanes in the pool at the gym.
This is about the big stuff, and how I deal with it. Stuff like dealing with fat shaming and hatred and having the energy to fight it, worrying about the health and happiness of my loved ones, fretting that my future husband has completely lost his way and will never find his way to my doorstep. (All of which I have dealt with over the past few days, and, in fact, deal with on most days of my life.)
Fear, shame, loneliness. Those are big rocks. But if I make my mind like water, it flows around them. It even has the power to change those rocks, to smooth their rough edges. Mind Like Water. I even love the sound of it.
How do you handle the big rocks in your path? Share in the comments!