Monday, June 24, 2019

Stopping to Start

"Start small...smaller...even smaller....Start by stopping" Jude Spacks '17

My neighbor the rapid Buddhist was already whizzing away after our chat, when she turned back with one more thing. "I'd like to start writing again--but I never seem to get to it. Could you tell me what to do?"

I adjusted an imaginary coach hat on my head and responded, "How 'bout this? For a few days in a row, write for just 10 minutes and then stop."

She scooted back towards me, shaking her head. "Oh, no, no, no.  I have to write at least a page...that's what I used to do. It takes way longer than 10 minutes."

"Ok, but I hear you haven't been getting to write that page lately. Why not try 10 minutes, or, say, 3 sentences--whatever seems like a very easy amount--then stop? Later you can do more--you'll want to. But warm up first by practicing ease and stopping. That's a good place to start."

I imagined other ways she could play with interrupting the habit of Not-Writing to help shift her can't-get-to-it pattern. Even by mentioning it, she could already be renewing awareness of her lucky freedom to write or not. I didn't say this out loud--she was in a hurry. 

She called back cheerily over her shoulder, "I can always use practice stopping!" as she hustled away. (When I next saw her, she said she'd begun writing her page-a-day again).

Most of us can use practice stopping, especially when there's resistance to starting something creative. Even the thought of the possibility of pausing may unravel the rope in a mental tug-of-war.

What might you want to stop, as an experiment?

  • Stop pushing to prove or fix anything about you and your worthiness. 
  • Stop overlooking that you're already essentially ok, whether you do the thing or not. 
  • Stop trying to strong-arm or cajole or rush yourself. Stop trying to force solutions.
  • Stop insisting you must know what you don't know (yet). Look with curiosity towards Don't Know. Curiosity creates.  
Why not stop waiting for a shinier spark of inspiration, a bigger view, less squirmy fear, a better time? Why not engage with the humble, no-big-deal possibility in front of you now? Follow the path opening footstep by footstep under your own wise feet.