Lately, I’ve found myself in these incredible states of overall presence, through many moments, of my daily life. I’ve been progressing in, both, the personal and professional arenas, in ways I had not previously thought possible. In the past, I’ve struggled with a critical inner-voice, crippling thoughts of self-doubt, and an incessant fear of failure. If that sounds familiar to anybody, I believe there is a term for that experience, “impostor syndrome.” Recently, however, I seem to have found myself operating in periods of relative ease, where I’ve essentially felt automatic. This is something that I faintly remember achieving maybe a handful of times, in the past. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses this wondrous phenomena in his research, on what he termed the “flow state.” Before Mihaly, the precedent was set two thousand years ago, when the idea showed up in Taoist philosophy. Taoist sages highlighted the principle of Wu Wei as the ideal way of experiencing the universe. In simple terms, Wu Wei, or non-doing, essentially refers to the notion of letting go in all aspects of everyday life thereby gaining enlightenment.
Others have their own methods of achieving peace of mind, but I certainly owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dan Harris’ brainchild. Harris and his team, have put together the wonderful “10% Happier” application, which offers tools to guide individuals through the world of meditation. Through their efforts, I’ve been able to maintain a fairly consistent meditation practice, which has led me to achieve this aim of progressing through life with clarity, freedom, and newly defined purpose, in every aspect of what I do, from being a parent, to mentoring students, to my work as a psychotherapy intern. With that being said, I am, of course, aware of the strange paradox of mindfulness. From the buddhist perspective, the rub is that meditation is not supposed to serve as a means of realizing any particular set of outcomes. Though scientific research points to the many psychological and biological benefits, hardcore proponents of meditation advise us to view mindfulness strictly as a path to experiencing the universe in its purest form, and nothing more. Regardless, I’m sure those same gurus are silently smirking internally, knowing they hold the key to a philosophy filled with immense spiritual power.
Dan Harris jokes that the way he knew that his practice was proving effective, was that his wife, at cocktail parties, would claim that her husband was becoming “less of a jerk.” Similarly, my wife too has noticed that I have been far more attuned than ever before. I show up each day with an overall awareness and presence and detachment from trivial circumstances, especially those that lie beyond the realm of my control.
I finish with these words from Lao Tsu’s incredible work, the Tao Te Ching, a talisman of wisdom: “Truthful words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not truthful. Good people do not argue. Those who argue are not good. Those who know are not learned. The learned do not know. The wise never try to hold on to things. The more you do for others, the more you have. The more you give to others, the greater your abundance. The Tao of heaven is sharp but does no harm. The Tao of the wise is to work without effort.”