By Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert
“Time is money. Don’t waste time!” If you observe the world around you, you will see how many people are dominated by that mantra: At this level of consciousness, people are overwhelmed trying to control their work and personal schedules. Trapped in the domination of the ego, they sulk and huff, “I’m so busy! I have too much to do and no time to do it!”
To shift your perception about the use of time takes courage because it’s really not about pedaling faster and faster to keep up. If you are going too fast on your journey, you won’t notice the courage obstacles until you run headlong into them—obstacles such as denial, apathy or intimidation. To create a different pace, why not declare an intention to find a spiritual discipline that supports slowing in the form of a meditation practice?
In Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “People say they can’t meditate, what they really mean is that they won’t make the time for it, or that when they try, they don’t like what happens. It isn’t what they are looking for or hoping for. It doesn’t fulfill their expectations. So maybe they should try again, this time letting go of their expectations and just watching.” In order to “watch,” you must stop, slowing the stride.
Stopping to reflect in silence pulls us away from the busyness of our culture, the tendency to value only complicated projects instead of life’s simple Truths. Do you understand the value of simplicity? The person who lives from the heart (courage is equivalent to cuer, meaning” heart”) understands simplicity. This is the gift of reflection. Learning to balance life between action-oriented steps and some type of meditative discipline, you move out of counterproductive habitual patterns (obstacles) and initiate your “courageous will.” Applying your courageous will, you begin to direct your own destiny such as when you are confronted with an issue at work like downsizing or going to work feeling unfulfilled.
Career adjustments do not come with a set of instructions, and society provides an abundance of false images of success. Hyper-individualized multi-tasking, eighty-hour workweeks, the “more is better” mentality and the virtual world of iPhones and apps are just a few of society’s success deceptions. As my yoga teacher said, “Busy has become a status symbol.” To embrace your heart’s true desire and manifest your vision, are you willing to sacrifice your attachment to an idea of success based on society’s ploys? If so, ask yourself these few questions:
- What superficial roles are you attached to?
- Are you stuck in exaggeration?
- How often do you hit the pause button?
- What impulses keep you trapped in the same responses?
- How do you quiet mental busyness?
- What obstacles keep you from slowing down and letting go? Inertia? Intimidation? Denial? Blame?
- Once you identify your obstacles, what courage action do you take?
Invite stillness into your Being.
Courage requires you to step up and take action (not become busier or overcommitted!). Action needs a purpose. Purpose is found in self-awareness. Self-awareness comes in silence. In other words, outwardly manifesting your courage to overcome obstacles requires the paradoxical action of taking a step inward—deeper into our identities—to become increasingly self-aware. Fortunately, courage will never become an app! Courage is an inside job. Only through self- knowledge, really knowing ourselves, can we begin to live fulfilled lives.
To start the process of slowing down your busyness, begin to eliminate the barrage of useless thoughts, particularly the old monologues that find blame or make excuses. When you commit to stop and reflect, it affects your ego’s masks and takes you outside the limitations of your false self-story, the source of anger, suffering, apathy, blame and unhappiness—the sources of anguish and dysfunction. Notice how our culture promotes and even mandates working longer hours, which ultimately keeps us trapped in the ego’s false scripts and prevents us from enjoying the real blessings that life offers in every moment.
During life’s struggles toward noble adventures, we start to recognize the aspects of our work lives that need to be released, like the manifestations of an obstacle to courage called “self-neglect”—the issues that cause illness and loss of self. Have you experienced the way people gather for the “critical” staff meeting? Most attendees display a nervous “hyperactive” energy, as if this is a key intrusion in their lives because they are so-o-o-o busy.
If you have participated in or observed this craziness, the next time you attend a meeting, suggest that everyone stop for three minutes, breathe deeply and quietly compose themselves. You will notice a shift in the “mood” as people become focused and centered. A different appreciation for listening will manifest, and the mood will align toward cooperation and peacefulness. Even a three minute courage-centering meditation allows for enough outcome to slow impulsive responses, manage urges and gain self-control. Where is your center of attention right now?
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