By Leo Babauta
What do you do when your job, or your personal life, is a constant source of busy-ness, rushing, nose-to-the-grindstone work, and stress?
Or what do you do if your life is simple and relatively stress-free, but something blows up and you are in the middle of chaos and high stress all of a sudden?
This is when we could use a dose of Zen Mind, or the Art of Letting Go.
What is this Zen Mind? To be honest, I’m still learning what that is, but what I’ve been practising is a constant letting go. Let’s take an example:
I have a major deadline approaching. It is stressing me out, man! But what is the source of the stress? It’s not the work, which is just a series of actions. It’s not the deadline, which is just a time constraint. It’s my reaction to those external events — my fear that I’m not going to make it, that I’ll mess up, that I’ll look stupid or incompetent. This fear that is causing my stress reaction is rooted in my wanting things to turn out a certain way … wanting to meet the deadline and get things perfect and look good.
What if I could let go of wanting things to turn out that way? This is a fantasy, an ideal, that I’m holding onto. It might turn out that way, sure, but it could turn out a dozen other ways, and the truth is I don’t have complete control over how it’ll turn out. All I can do is do the work, and the fantasy, the fear and the stress are only getting in the way. So if I can let go of this ideal, this fantasy, I can let go of the fear, and the stress.
This is the Zen Mind that I’m learning about. It’s simply letting go, and in doing so, you attain a peace of mind no matter what chaos and seemingly stressful event are going on around you.