The Power of the Small

I was feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and tired.  It happens to all of us at times.  The press of our responsibilities and commitments begins to weigh us down. There’s too much to do, and not enough time. We lose balance and feel constantly stressed. If we don’t catch ourselves and make a timely course correction, we can get lost and depressed.

It was in this state that I took a few hours off yesterday to reassess.  I started by cleaning my house.  This is one of my time-tested strategies for sweeping away old patterns, literally, and letting in a fresh mental breeze.  Having accomplished a semblance of order around me, I settled in to do some “inner” work.  For me this usually consists of a shamanic process called “journeying” in which I go into a sort of reverie, and dialogue with my inner guides. I always take a question with me.  This time I asked, “what do I do to get over this crushing sense of overwhelm and inertia?”

My inner teacher immediately appeared in my vision and said “move your computer.” Needless to say I was disappointed in this advice and decided he must have misunderstood the gravity of my situation.  “You don’t understand,” I argued.  “This is really serious.  I’m a mess! Can’t get anything done.  Getting depressed. I need real help here, not furniture rearrangement.” Actually, I was hoping for something grandiose, like “you need to completely change your life, move to Tibet, and live in a monastery. But my teacher was adamant.  “Stop arguing with me, and move your computer,” he said.  So I did. That very night.

Now you should know that by “computer” we’re talking about a measly little laptop here, that sits on my kitchen table.  My habit is to get up, make my morning tea, then check my email (and well yes, my facebook page too,) and get to work dealing with the day’s requirements and requests.  Then of course I also have to check the news and the traffic and the stock market and a number of websites and blogs that I like to keep up with.  A good deal of time goes into this, but it all seems so important and I feel like I’m working so hard, getting a  lot done.

But this morning, having moved my laptop to the back room that I sometimes use as an office, I had a very different experience.  I sat down with a delectable pot of dragon well tea, and gazed out at the meadow behind my house; as I gazed, my thoughts turned inward and traversed my inner landscape.  I reconnected with myself and what felt like the essential elements of the day before me.  I felt peaceful.  I wrote in my journal and caught the subtle spark of creative ideas right at the edge of consciousness–the ones that are easily startled away by the press of external demands. I felt inspired again.

Of course, later today I will go get my laptop from it’s resting place, check my email, and take care of necessary tasks.  But the day is different, having made this one small change in the order and alignment of things. I would never have imagined that such a small shift in my external environment could have such a profound effect on my internal world.  It reminds me how, in qigong class, my teacher can make the most subtle correction in my form or posture, and catalyze an amazing change in my energy flow.  Small things matter. Subtle shifts have big effects.

Perhaps you really don’t need to quit your job, go trekking in Mongolia, or become a monk after all.  Maybe you just need to move your computer.

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