Spiritual Growth via Subtraction

fog on river Ganga

fog on river Ganga

removing the disturbances that hide our calm center

A few weeks ago someone asked me if all my years of meditation allowed me to return to my calm center when I was upset. My internal answer was that when I am upset I often forget I have a calm center!  I don’t know what I responded.

So for the next couple weeks, I focused on noticing when I am disturbed, then returning to calm center to “watch” and see what I learn.

What I became aware of is that dithering is a disturbance I had never recognized as such!  And I do it a lot. With this self-assigned task to “watch”, instead of berating myself, or spinning around more in my head, I got amused, and then curious. What is underneath? I found some really old stories. I dither about what to wear if I am going outside my narrow world of dog park and yoga studio (clothes defining how I am seen and whether I am likable). I dither about content when I am designing a special workshop, a custom program for a client, etc. Underneath all this is my underlying fear of “not good enough”: if I don’t get it perfect, then I am unworthy to BE.

This is a really really old story in me, one I have been experimenting living without. (By definition, our stories define us, unconsciously make our decisions for us, etc.) So I got to see more of the ways this story lives me, and the act of just looking at it in the moment helps to loosen its grip. I am not my story if I can witness it in action. It becomes just a story, instead of who I am.  And the dithering is less, even short-circuited.In turn, what I learned about my calm center, is that I don’t have to actively return to it, as if I were lost. Rather what happens is that, as I witness my story (instead of live it), I am already in my calm center – I never left it. It’s what author Deborah Adele calls the spiritual process of subtraction… instead of doing or adding something, I just have to stop being the distraction.

Try this:  next time you find yourself worked up, dithering, crabby, or whatever, pause and just “behold” yourself exactly as you are. Notice how all this feels in your body (tension-where?, stomach upset, whirling mind, or whatever). Listen to the messages or stories that may be hiding underneath … all without judgment. This only takes a few minutes. Notice how you are feeling afterwards. Calmer? Easier? Let me know!