As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I had a release of some emotion. I thought back to the Tara Brach talk I had watched last night. “1000 serious moves” is a phrase she used that stuck in my head. I reflected on how I can be stiff and serious sometimes when I want to be soft and lighthearted. I contemplated my habit of constantly planning what I am doing next instead of sinking into the moment and going with the flow. I thought about how I cling on to my persona of “person who is in control” when I would rather open up and show vulnerability and emotion to the people I am closest to.
I realized how I had been caught up in the illusion of having “1000 serious moves”; like every decision I made was somehow critical to my life going on its “right” path. There was no room for error. I had to get it right if I were to fulfill my purpose here on earth. That kind of sucks the fun out of life, doesn’t it? Well, there was an earlier time in my life when I did quite the opposite: I hardly thought about my choices at all. I was just seeking pleasure (and avoiding pain) without any regard to the consequences. And that certainly didn’t lead to happiness or freedom either.
In order to live in balance, I believe the key factor is trust. We need to trust in ourselves and in life. From this point of view we can lighten up and let go because we know that we are doing the best we can and we have faith that the universe has our best interest at heart. So here I will compare what life might look like from each perspective–1000 serious moves, trusting self and life.
1000 serious moves
We have a mask we show the world. We are often guarded, defending and protecting our image. But all of the pretending and defending makes us feel even more separate, more inauthentic and more dull even though our most important goals are to feel alive, real and deeply connected to others. We especially want other people to believe that we are someone who has everything under control. I heard an old Bruce Springsteen song in the grocery store–Brilliant Disguise–and a line keep ringing in my ears–“struggling to do everything right”. For some of us, this is how we live our lives; striving to steer our lives and get it “right” which only leads to feeling lost and alone.
We are trying to figure things out and plan for the next thing. We are desperate to solve our problems of the present and arrange our lives so that we have the most pleasant and comfortable future. I do this a lot! Occasionally I will notice how I am doing one thing but I am already trying to plan what I’ll be doing next. In this way, I am totally out of the present moment, missing out on the preciousness of it. I often attempt to figure things out, too. I want the solution and I want it NOW! I ponder and analyze, judge and compare but in the end I am no where closer to actually solving the “problem”. What a waste of time!
We try to be right all the time and try to know all of the answers. And in doing so, we are usually making someone else “bad” or “wrong” or “different”. Being right and in the know makes us feel good about ourselves. It boosts our egos and our sense of control but of course we are likely left feeling unhappy, irritated, disconnected. This turn our communication into competitions and power struggles rather than having our conversations unify us and give us a sense of similarity and togetherness.
We are very serious about our decisions. We may weigh the pros and cons, comparing and analyzing in our heads for hours. We are scared of taking risks and making a mistake. In the end, we might just do what seems safest and most comfortable. Although at times it may be wise to carefully weigh all the options and possible benefits and consequences, probably we frequently talk ourselves out of choices that could have led to expansion. Not really a recipe for a life of adventure, is it?
We fear making a mistake or looking like a fool. I mean, who wants to look like an idiot? Again, some caution is good, but if we go overboard we might find ourselves passing up opportunities or not living up to our potential. At my last job, I had terrible anxiety before it was my day or week of planned activities. Speaking in front of kids was something I was used to but the thought of looking insecure or inept in front of my peers was terrifying.
We are afraid of change. We may be rigid and inflexible about our beliefs, opinions, schedules, routines. We don’t want anything unexpected to knock us out of our illusion that we have got things under control. Keeping routines has almost always given me a feeling of comfort and security. Not that routines are bad, but they can be a hinderance when we are set in our ways that we fail to see other possibilities.
We wait until a difficult situation passes so we can “get on with our lives”. Unable to accept our present circumstances, we hope for a future where things are better and easier. I definitely came to know this one during the hormone craze. All I wanted was to escape what I was experiencing and feel good again. Surely time was passing me by. But wishing I could somehow skip over this part only added to my suffering.
Living with trust
In contrast to hiding behind a mask, we can take the risk to be real and be vulnerable. We can show people who we really are and what we are really feeling. For myself, I used to believe I was concerned about hurting someone’s feelings but I’m thinking my motives may be more self-centred than that! Perhaps I am more worried about how speaking up and being real could affect ME. Imagine the freedom and ease of simply being who you are and not having to worry about what someone might think or feel, what someone might say or do, or how uncomfortable it may be for you to face their reaction and the outcome. Imagine that you actually create more trust and a closer bond. You could even inspire the other person to be more open and vulnerable.
Rather than problem solving and planning all the time, we are present in our bodies, alert and aware, ready to respond to whatever comes our way with wisdom, grace. Coming from a heart-centred, intuitive place, we can be more free to go with the flow and be more creative in how we resolve issues. We trust that things are going to work out in the long run and we don’t need to sort out every single detail in advance.
We are open-minded and really listen to other people deeply. We are not concerned with being right. We are mainly focused on seeking to understand others and trying to see things from their point of view. We freely admit that we don’t know everything. We are accepting of other people’s ideas, opinions, beliefs and cultures. We allow for uncertainty and imperfections. We know that life is a mystery and things are not always black and white.
We use our mind as a tool to help us make decisions but we are ultimately guided by our hearts. We take mindful risks. We look for challenges and desire to grow and learn from them. We trust that the answers we seek are within us and we will know what to do when the time arises.
We don’t fear making mistakes or looking bad. We realize that mistakes are really learning experiences. We take responsibility for our actions if we have hurt someone and use the situation to look at ourselves and our flaws with compassion. We know that others feel the same vulnerability as us.
We embrace change and the natural cycles of life. We know that everything has a beginning and an end, followed by another beginning. We can easily break out of our routine to allow for spontaneous ideas and activities. We become playful with life. We see that change can open up a whole new world of possibilities. We accept loss as something we will have to deal with on our journey but trust their will be positive gains as well.
We see that difficulties are opportunities. As I have heard before, what’s in the way, IS the way. We don’t need to try to run away from the pain or go into denial. If we are fully present to our experience, our suffering can be lessened. We trust that we will have the strength and inner resources to handle any tough situation.