Yesterday I had a chance to read a blog post by Jack Kornfield which opened with this reflection:
“You need a reliable compass to set your direction and steer through the rough waters when you are going through hard times, when you’ve been betrayed, when you’ve lost your job, when you’ve lost friends or loved ones, when you’re in conflict with your family, or when you’re going through illness.”
I would add that we all need a compass everyday to help us stay on track. It isn’t just the big life events that can throw us, but small things too like a disagreement at work or at home.
The roughest experience I have been in recently was helping my mom to downsize and move to a supported living residence last month. I found myself swept up in a confusing swirl of emotions and anxiety – anger, stress, love, concern, frustration – and as a result at times really didn’t show up as my best self, or even my o.k. self. I was so caught up in the experience, that even though I was aware I was behaving in a way that was only contributing to the stress and tension, I couldn’t stop.
Jack says: “No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can always set our compass to our highest intentions in the present moment. Perhaps it is nothing more than being in a heated conversation with another person and stopping to take a breath and ask yourself, “What is my highest intention in this moment?”
If I had read Jack’s blog post I think it would have served as the reminder I needed to pause and adjust. The key is to notice. Then stop for a moment and reflect “what is my highest intention in this moment?” With that intention in mind, what you you want to do?
In my case, when I noticed how I was acting, I could have paused, asked what my highest intention was in the moment, and realized it was to help move my aging and ill mother to a place where she would be better cared for. This thought would have been enough to get me back on track. I would have probably gone over and given her a hug, and gone back to packing.
I’m good with how the move went, and although it was far from perfect and I could have been nicer, mom and I got there in the end.
I did though want to share this practice with you of catching yourself in the moment and connecting with your best intention, in hopes that it might help you the next time you find yourself in a rough spot.