By Doug Marman
Hundreds of years ago, people worked from dawn to dusk raising crops, milking cows, and taking care of their children. They were often exhausted, at day’s end, from the sheer physical work.
Today, we suffer from a different kind of stress. More and more we complain about our minds driving us like task masters. We can’t stop the racing of our thoughts. We worry about the chaos in our lives, as if the only way we can survive is by plotting the right path through an obstacle course. The mind isn’t easy to control. A night of peaceful sleep can be like trying to tame wild horses.
The easiest path to mental relaxation is not passivity, as many people think. We don’t need to turn off our thoughts. Instead, we need to work for Life, rather than looking for ways to make Life work for us.
It is refreshing and rejuvenating to be involved in doing something we love, especially when we see it reaching out and touching others. If we are absorbed in our work, knowing it is for a larger purpose, we forget about ourselves.
Spirit then flows out through us, relaxing us. It is deeply satisfying to our mind, because our efforts are aimed toward something—or someone—we care about. This turns it into something meaningful. Therefore, our actions become more spontaneous and natural, when we love what we do.
On the other hand, if we work only for our own gains, to earn money, or for recognition, then our focus turns in on ourselves. This reverses the flow of our attention and undermines our inspiration to do what we love. As a result, the mind becomes divided, and this is where stress begins.
Thinking too much about trying to get what we want robs us of our graceful connection with life. We stop flowing and moving with the world around us, and instead start fighting the forces of the world, as if they were all waged against us. We claw our way to survival. It becomes a perpetual battle that never ends.
Wouldn’t you rather be living a life with purpose—a purpose so compelling that it lights you up from inside? Following your heart means finding something you love. Not for your own benefit, but for others, to create something larger.
How do we learn what it is that truly warms us within? I don’t know. I can’t tell you how to do it, because there is no way of laying traps for love. You find it the same way it finds you. I don’t know how else to put it.
It is often unexpected, like a gift waiting for us one morning, from our lover. It can be so subtle that we miss the opportunity, if we aren’t looking for it. And that’s why searching is so important. It prepares us.
When I search for deep and satisfying love, I find myself considering unexpected paths. I’ll look anywhere. Then, when I least expect it, it finds me. It can seem small at first. But, if I care for it and follow where it takes me, it opens up like a flower.
To relax your mind, learn from the river. Every molecule reaches out to touch others, grasping gently, while churning and spinning and tumbling forward. The flow of water is an amazing dance. All the atoms are so enamored with what they are creating together that they forget about where they are going and what might happen next. Time disappears for them, in the moment.
Let your experience with life carry you along, in the same way. Become an atom in the river that flows out, touching the whole of life itself.
Nothing is insignificant to a lover. Every move and shape has meaning. Every whisper is a song. We can see it in even the smallest things around us. This is what makes life meaningful and relaxes the mind.