Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The power of perspective

Byron Katie's "The Work" brings inquiry to your thoughts and enables you to free yourself of the stress and frustration and depression they bring. Eckhart Tolle calls our attention to the three levels of every situation: what is happening, your reaction to what is happening, and your awareness of both of these levels. Abraham talks about bringing awareness to your thoughts when you're not feeling great and choosing a thought that feels better. Lately, for me, I've been practicing my awareness by asking whether it's the situation itself or my thoughts about the situation that are making me feel the way I do.

It's such a simple way of looking at things, a small adjustment, really, in the larger mix of how we view the world, yet it holds such power. It is playing a huge role in how I am approaching my work this week. This time last week I had a single freelancing project I was working on, with the remainder of my time being invested into my own personal growth and various aspects of my Avon Walk training. By Thursday, I was working on a book project, had a fast-approaching deadline on a relatively large freelance project, and I was talking with the folks at the Hoffman Institute about working for them part-time. This weekend I walked over 30 miles and by the time Monday rolled around, I was exhausted and wondering how on earth I was going to fit all of these moving parts into a cohesive life.

This one awareness practice turned my energy around. I quickly realized that it wasn't the situation that was causing me stress, it was the way I was thinking about the situation. I've known for months now that I have more than enough time to get everything done yet I still feel time pressure. That isn't reality, that's just my perception of reality. So I called myself on my thoughts, noticed they were just thoughts, and stopped accepting those thoughts as the truth. And then I got to work. At the end of the day, I was able to get everything done I needed to, and then some, with time to spare. My stress was gone, replaced with a sense of peace and trust in the process, which felt MUCH better than the alternative!

So today, as I prepare to go work in an office for two days, I have a choice about how I look at this work. I can either see it as taking away from my precious time for myself, taking away from my time to get other work done, taking away from my time to train and all of the wonderful chores that go along with training, or I can realize that these thoughts cause stress, a stress that isn't necessary or useful in any way. Instead, I am choosing to see this work as an opportunity for me to get out into the world and interact with people, using what I've learned over the past few months and applying it to a more traditional style of work. With this perspective, I am looking forward to my day today, looking forward spending time with people engaged in a different sort of activity.

This is the power of a single practice. What thoughts are causing you stress today? Can you see a way to look at the situation from a different perspective, one that doesn't cause you stress? Have some fun playing with this concept today and see what you learn about yourself and how your thoughts affect your day. Namaste.

Photo: "Peaceful," originally uploaded by Tony Lam

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