It is rather paradoxical for our task-focused self when it isn’t the quality of the practice, but our honest and humble acceptance of the emerging moment, that prepares us for nonjudgemental, agendaless presence with another.
Being kind to ourselves can be helpful as we seek to practice this way of being, because it places us at cross-purposes with our culture, where performance and improvement are so valued and the limits and variability of our humanness are cause for criticism and correction.
Many aspects of our training as well as our everyday experience in this society urge us to take control to achieve a particular result, and this can become so implicitly ingrained that it feels wrong to sink toward our innate humanity.
Again, just listening with kindness to the competing voices inside is good preparation for extending this attentiveness and kindness to all aspects of the person about to come in our door.
― Bonnie Badenoch, The Heart of Trauma: Healing the Embodied Brain in the Context of Relationships
Most important, in flow, the relationship between what a person had to do and what he could do was perfect. The challenge wasn’t too easy. Nor was it too difficult. It was a notch or two beyond his current abilities, which stretched the body and mind in a way that made the effort itself the most delicious reward. That balance produced a degree of focus and satisfaction that easily surpassed other, more quotidian, experiences. In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away. They were autonomous, of course. But more than that, they were engaged.
― Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
The pursuit of goodness leads to greatness, but the pursuit of greatness, whether by a man or a nation, leads to ruin… Good men build; great men destroy. They destroy because they try to control something other than themselves and that always leads to destruction.
Our shoes pin us to the world, like Peter Pan to his shadow. More than simply facilitating our movement out-of-doors, they mediate between the wearer and the ground. Perhaps it is less the world they pin us to, but our place in it; that shadow of society that follows wherever we go.
It was almost painful to watch, that kite of mine.
Tethered to the string in my hand. Dancing in the sky all alone.
My breath caught in my throat, my pulse beating wild and crazy on my chest. My heart soaring with every dip and turn of the kite, as if I were flying along, instead of standing with my two feet on the ground, squinting against the sun to see the dance.
What if it fell?
What if the breeze took it away?
I counted the seconds until I could reel it back in.
I was that kite.
Fragile against the wind. Soaring one minute. Spiraling straight down next. Just looking for something to hold me up.
Before I spun out of control and flew away.
Disappearing from sight.
What seems to me to be happening is that those people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it — assisted by the English language’s enormous flexibility and size, they are carving out large territories for themselves within its frontiers.
These examples suggest what one needs to learn to control attention. In principle any skill or discipline one can master on one’s own will serve: meditation and prayer if one is so inclined; exercise, aerobics, martial arts for those who prefer concentrating on physical skills. Any specialization or expertise that one finds enjoyable and where one can improve one’s knowledge over time. The important thing, however, is the attitude toward these disciplines. If one prays in order to be holy, or exercises to develop strong pectoral muscles, or learns to be knowledgeable, then a great deal of the benefit is lost. The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake, and to know that what matters is not the result, but the control one is acquiring over one’s attention.
―Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
Trust me. If you do not decide where you are heading, and refuse to take the appropriate action, you will end up being shaped into what others would have you become. Then any change will not be made for your benefit but for theirs.
When you label so much of what happens to you as ‘bad,’ it reinforces the feeling that you are a powerless pawn at the mercy of outside forces over which you have no control. And – this is key – labeling something a bad thing almost guarantees that you’ll experience it as such.