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Puddle of Mud

Wait Until the Mud Clears

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: mollypop
Wait… Can you?  Will you?

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?

— Tao Te Ching

Do I have the patience to wait until the mud settles?  Me??  Not a chance.  I’ll be the one stomping and splashing about in my murky, muddy mental puddle.

I guess you’d call me a wader not a waiter.  I want, I NEED to move, to take action.  Waiting frustrates me. I want to “do” something.  Something more.  Something else.  Something completely different.  Something soothing.  Something mind-numbing.  Something brash. Something bold.  Something.

Authors Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom ([amazon-product text=”The Power of Flow” type=”text”]060980197X[/amazon-product]) seem to support my inclination toward action… or so I thought when I was sucked in with one of their techniques for increasing the power of flow:

Do 100% of what you know to do at that very moment.

This involves:

  1. Being aware of what there is to do, which is both an intuitive and intellectual process.
  2. Knowing when you are not doing what there is to do, which is often signaled by sensations in your body.
  3. Persisting in doing it, no matter the short-term consequences.

The Patience to Wait

But then, just when I began to think my inclination to action had been validated, Belitz and Lundstrom went on to say:

Then, when you know in your gut that you have done all that is required, that is, all you know to do at this moment, turn loose.  Breathe a sigh of relief, and turn the results of your actions over to the powers that be.  Consider the matter done and out of your hands; trust that whatever happens will turn out to be of the greater good. This creates space for magic and synchronicity. [the emphasis is mine]

Hmmm – magic and synchronicity need space?

Be Still

Can you remain unmoving
until the right action arises by itself?

— Tao Te Ching

I reiterate: Being still doesn’t come easy for me.  So, how do I learn to be still and wait so as to make space for all this magic and synchronicity? Leo Babauta of ZenHabits suggests:

Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Listen to your thoughts. See the details of your surroundings.

Be at peace with being still.

Then after a minute or two of doing that, contemplate your life, and how you’d like it to be. See your life with less movement, less doing, less rushing. See it with more stillness, more contemplation, more peace.

Then be that vision.

On another day, in his Lazy Manifesto, Babauta suggests how to practice “not-doing” – which I interpret to also mean “be still”:

  • Don’t force things… think of water, which flows around things rather than trying to force its way through them.
  • Let things happen. Often our actions interfere with events that would happen without our actions… Step back, don’t act, things will happen without us.

Ah, now he’s hooked me with my favorite mantra – “see what happens”…

Diane Walker, a contemplative photographer who lives on an island near Seattle adds:

…It’s like walking in the lagoon to look at the sand dollars: as long as I keep walking, it stirs the mud and I can’t see them. But if I stop, eventually the mud settles and they lie there at my feet, hundreds of them. It is what my husband would call a two-part algorithm, I think. You have to be still, and you have to be open, to notice, to be aware of what rises to the surface and what lies beneath.

A two-part algorithm – be still, be aware.  Sounds simple.  Not easy but simple: Wait ’til the water is clear…

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I’m learning to be still. How about you?

2 comments to Wait Until the Mud Clears

  • Oh, I love this: “be aware of what rises to the surface and what lies beneath”; such a wonderful phrase to remember when sitting still and doing visualizations. I must admit, being still has always come somewhat easy to me (that is, BK – before kids!) I find stillness to be what calms me and guides me when I’m feeling a bit out of sorts and it’s always easier to go to that place, I find, when I’m out in nature; water, trees, grass – it doesn’t matter – as long as I’m feeling a connection with earth. Thanks for a great post!

  • xelliott123

    As I I sit here contemplating your thoughts, the old, wrinkled buddist man sits on the patio next to me, cross-legged and connected to his inner spirit! My husband (we are celebrating our 46th anniversary in Hawaii) brings in the coffee and pumpkin muffins in a crinkling paper sack, disturbing the quiet of the moment! I shush him, not being sensitive to his return from the bustling, noisy streets of Waikiki!
    I repeat, to myself, my favorite mantra: Be still and know that I am God…
    I look forward to my flight today … Kona Coast beacons me to it’s quiet, serene beauty!
    Oh! I wonder if the old gentleman’s karma is enhanced with that sweet, fragrant cigarette-like odor wafting past our deck!