Ages ago I read of a group of Zen monks who would go through a very complicated set of chants and prayers every time they went through a doorway. “How bizarre”, I thought to myself, “Imagine if I did that every time I entered a room - it would take forever to get any where” … and it would.
But the purpose of doing that is not praying to the doorway, it's for the monk to make sure they don’t forget and mentally run off. Doorways are always opportunities, you see - to leap into the future of where you are heading, or stay present and aware to the moment you find yourself in: In your head - lost in thinking, or in your body - aware and living.
There’s always a choice, and remembering to make your choice is everything. Mental activity is the heavy stuff. No matter the event, the thinking about it is infinitely more stressful. And - while being constantly ahead of yourself means you feel busy and overwhelmed, being present means you do one thing at a time and you feel calm, regardless of how much you have to do. One of these choices causes drama and exhaustion, the other means you can wend your way through life smoothly and efficiently, with a smile on your face.
I mention this story because why not? And a fine fellow was telling me that he has just started to do what his father did, every day before he set off for work. His father would make sure everything was ready, and then stand at the front door, staring out the small window - sometimes for ten minutes or so.
He was making sure he was ready for the day. Taking the time before he stepped out on the street to pause, to collect, to get that half-step back before he got caught up in the busy, in the go go.
My dad would do the opposite - as in at the end of the day. As a kid I would hear the car pull up and wait at the window for my dad to come in. He would sometimes sit in that car for ages. Later on I asked him what he was doing and he said he was listening to the sound of silence … letting the day go so he could join his family anew, without the events of the day and all the wouldda shouldda couldda’s clinging to him.
So you know I’m a big fan of closing your eyes and meditating because that brings you the choice for a large amount of calm extremely quickly, but if you don’t want to do that you now have something else.
I call it "the Pause", and whether done before the day, during and/or after, it is always worth investing in. You can be reassured that meditating AND the pause combined together are huge.
And why not? No one is going to make the choice for the half-step back for you - are they? Maybe you should get going on that for yourself.
Questions? Let me know, as always I’d love to help.
Go well! Arjuna
PS. I put together a very easy to read, yet I believe rather compelling, list of ways of practicing more mindful and enjoy being less stressed and struggling. It's free, and you can get a copy here: