If you’re reading this, I assume you’re at least somewhat interested in the spiritual side of things. That’s mostly what I write about.
You may meditate. Practice mindfulness. Do yoga. Chant. Listen to Eckhart Tolle talks. Read Eckhart’s books. Same with Ram Dass, Mickey Singer and many other higher beings.
You probably think, as I do, that this spiritual stuff is incredibly important to your inner well-being. And yet…
There’s a good chance that in your daily life, this spiritual stuff is not actually front and center. And the kicker is, you actually think it is front and center.
How can we tell? By asking ourselves one key question:
What do I expend my mental energy on during a typical day?
For most spiritual seekers, the answer will comprise a few of the following:
-Worrying about my finances with the stock market going crazy, the destabilizing war in Ukraine and recession on the horizon.
-Worrying about my kids or other loved ones.
-Ruminating day in and day out about my job and whether it’s the career path I want to be on; i.e., should I make a change?
-Obsessing about my goal of making $XXX thousands (millions?) of dollars this year.
-Obsessing about what I’m eating and whether I’m too fat.
While expending mental energy on these things every day we are, of course, also meditating daily, listening to talks, reading spiritual books, etc.
How are you expending mental energy?
So the question becomes: What to do? First is what I already wrote. Ask yourself where you’re spending your mental energy. Be as honest as possible.
Second, now that you’re armed with that knowledge, think about how you might be able to reallocate that energy. How?
This is where mindfulness comes in. Instead of getting lost in spending energy on obsessing, ruminating and worrying about the above areas, we redirect our energy toward noticing when we’re doing those things.
This is a good time to bring up, again, my favorite quote of Eckhart Tolle:
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
We need to expend mental energy on becoming aware of all those things because if we don’t, we’re toast. And this does take energy. And will. And commitment.
Putting our energy in the right places
Which is the point of this piece. If we are to be effective trekkers on the spiritual path, we need to allocate our finite energies to the right areas.
But becoming aware that we’re obsessing, etc., is only the first step. The second step is the indispensable act of letting go.
Something comes up in our head, let it go. It happens again, let it go. Just keep letting go. All day long, every day.
Mickey and the machine
As Mickey Singer describes it, we become a letting go machine.
How does this work? To take one of thousands of examples, you’re sitting in your car at a red light. You notice that your mind has drifted to ruminating about whether you should start looking around for a new job.
After noticing this, you relax. Completely. In your head, shoulders, chest, belly. Then you lean away from the job thoughts…and let them pass.
Again, that takes energy. But it’s the most valuable, efficient use of energy there is.
The expending of that energy takes us closer to where we want to be. Ruminating and obsessing takes us further away.
Nothing wrong with attacking our challenges
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with contemplating a career change or thinking about how to help your kids in whatever they’re struggling with. But if you’re going to do those things, do them!
How? Sit down with a yellow legal pad and devote some focused attention to tackling the challenge at hand. Then set it aside and come back to it when necessary. What we don’t want to do is drift into thought on these things, on and off, all day long, day after day.
Becoming a letting go machine isn’t easy. It takes a significant amount of energy and determination.
But the rewards are profound. Not only for you, but for those around you.
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