Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Answer: The Letting Go Tool Kit

Recently someone asked a follow up question to my post on The 1 Percent Rule. Namely:

Aside from focusing on the 1%, how do you "hand over all that stuff to the
deity of my choice"?

First, I don't want to discount focusing on that 1 percent. Just like curbing cravings, don't underestimate the power of distraction. Just focusing your attention away from the maddening drone of Things You Can't Control can do wonders.

But once you've done that, I'll add that letting go of the uncontrollable 99 percent of my work and life isn't easy. It's one of the hardest things I do every day--harder even than marketing.

It takes vigilance and awareness, as well as clarity about what's my 1 percent and what's the rest. To wit, the things that help me most:


It's often said and I experience regularly: Don't like what you're feeling? Don't worry. It'll pass. That aphorism becomes concrete in meditation or other mindful traditions, like prayer.

Anytime I notice my mind drifting in meditation, I note it and bring myself back, gently, to my breath or to the image on which I'm meditating.

That practice is priceless when I'm simply walking around my office and feeling that tight anxiety of things I can't control. Just like in meditation, I notice when my mind is back to asking Why hasn't that prospective client called/emailed?, for example. Then I notice it, practice detachment and remind myself, "None of my business. Let it go."

I've heard it said that "Why?" is not a spiritual question--but it's still a good one to ask if you're self-employed. If my question is, "Why hasn't that check arrived? It was supposed to be here last week," you better believe that my job is to call the client and inquire. But if the question is "Why isn't she calling me?" I have two choices: I can either call her myself, or I can let it go. I try to do both. I call, and then, no matter the outcome, I accept that I can't make things happen the way I always want and I let it go.


Remember all those people I have in my life to support my business? This is one of the things I use them for. If meditation and mindfulness doesn't work, I call them so I can have someone outside my brain tell me to let it go. Sometimes just by talking to them, and by getting the reassurance that I'm doing everything I can (or by getting a new action step to take), I feel better. I'm back to my 1 percent.


At some point, I have to say, those tenacious little worries just aren't going away on their own. That's when I call in the big guns. If I'm suffering something having to do with work--or my personal life--I try to interrupt my anxiety and my obsession by praying to whatever I believe in to have it removed. I will do this as many times as necessary throughout the day if it's really bothering me.


It almost always helps if I can get myself out of my mind and into my body. When I'm worrying about something, or ruminating on that 99 percent, I'm almost always shrugging in my shoulders, holding my breath or breathing shallowly or contracting my chest wall. It helps me to go into a pose like legs-up-the-wall pose, fish pose supported by a bolster or blanket under my back, bridge pose or reclining bound angle pose.

Your mileage may vary. For you, it could just be a good run on a treadmill or some quality time with your elliptical machine. Clear your head. And then come back and see if it's any easier to focus on your 1 percent.

No comments: