I love blog posts that start with "How To...". They are always so promising, and hold the anticipation of a wrapped present under the Christmas tree, or a package arriving on your doorstep after your recent online purchase.
"Oh I can't wait to open this! And finally SEE what's inside!"
And, just like Christmas, just like opening that package that you ordered online, there's that moment of not knowing, the moment of unveiling, the moment where your expectation rises to greet the present moment unfolding.
When it's unveiled, we deal with the match between our heart's desire - the image of what we hoped to see in that opening - and the reality right before our eyes. Is it everything you imagined? Is it "perfect" (meaning, does it match your idea of what you wanted)?
Or is it a letdown? An unfulfilled promise? A shattered dream?
Notice that whatever happens to be sitting in the box is completely neutral in this scenario. It just is.
And whether we create a Disney ending to this buildup, or whether we concoct an Elizabethan tragedy of epic proportions, is a function of our mind.
We can't stop thoughts. We can't control certain aspects of our mind's nature.
We CAN become the observer, the innocent bystander who sees it all but is often left out of the conversation.
When your mind is chattering, when you feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled, just stop and listen.
Instead of trying to solve the problem with the same mind that created it (thanks, Einstein, for telling us that this won't work!), listen to your thoughts.
Acknowledge what's asking to be heard.
Acknowledge any resistance you are putting up against that asking.
Acknowledge your desperate need to know right now.
Acknowledge your fear of sitting still and doing nothing about it.
Acknowledge your frantic chase to put an end to all the chatter right this minute.
Acknowledge whatever comes up for you.
When you've taken the time to give full acknowledgment, put it on paper, or speak it out loud. Find some way to express it, so you can experience the energy of your thoughts through your five senses. Give them an outlet. It doesn't have to be shared with anyone (but a blog sure feels cathartic sometimes).
And then notice how it feels just to give a little time to yourself and be heard.
So what about the promise of this blog post? To be exactly where you are, try including exactly the parts of yourself you'd rather deny, put away, or hide from the world. Give a little room to these voices, and you may even be pleasantly surprised.
I tried this today. I had to. I was facing a hurricane of thoughts competing for my attention inside my head, and all I wanted to do was lie down in a field of daffodils. I'm preparing for a "big" talk tomorrow at Stanford Medical School, and it's flooded my head with ideas. Deep down I know that the key to a great talk is being fully present to exactly what is going on in the room, doing all the preparation and then fully letting go in the moment. Here is a video blog with my process of getting to exactly where I am (it did feel a LOT better after giving everything a voice):