Friday, June 13, 2008

Zen And ADD

This week has flown by for me! I'm not sure why it seemed to go by so effortlessly. Like many people I have my highs and lows with days of energy and other days of lethargy. Earlier this week I sensed within myself a feeling of lightness as though some unknown burden had been lifted. At the same time I had no sense of being burdened. All of this has been a bit of a mystery to me. This lightness of being has at times made me feel as though I was floating through my week. I still do not know why and I am not going to question it too much. Whatever it was and whatever caused it has been an unexpected gift and I gratefully accept it. Today I am just happy because it is Friday, I'm having lunch with a friend, and tomorrow is the weekend. The best things in life are the simple things.

I am still reading and studying the Tao Te Ching. The 17th verse says a lot about leadership. I would agree with these words of Lao-tzu.

With the greatest leader above them,people barely know one exists.
Next comes one they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When a leader trusts no one, no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little. He never speaks carelessly. He works without self-interest and leaves no trace. When all is finished, the people say,"We did it ourselves".

Once I was having a discussion about Attention Deficient Disorder with some of my family. I have no data to support this but I think ADD may be one of the most undiagnosed conditions in our society. We live in a culture where we are bombarded with sounds and images. To complicate the matter most of us have jobs and lives that demand multi tasking all day long. With all of this together how can we possibly focus on anything for very long? In my work I am constantly distracted or pulled away from whatever I am trying to focus on. For me, Zen and Mindfulness are not only good spiritual practices, they are an antidote to modern life. Zen is being where you are and doing what you are doing. Mindfulness is another name for this. It is being present to the moment. Being where you are, doing what you are doing, and being present to the moment are very challenging. It is not easy for me to do and I often fail at it. However, like when doing meditation, once you realize that you aren't in the moment, you can return to it. Much of my day I am returning to the moment from wherever I have drifted. My body is always in the moment but my mind likes to wander off. Sometimes I am reliving a pleasant memory. Other times I am day dreaming about an imaginary experience like being an actor in those wonderful Corona Beer commercials. Neither of these activities are bad in themselves. We all do them. They're only a problem when we are doing them all the time and we are never present to the present. In Buddhist Zazen or various kinds of Christian meditation, we sit and try to calm our minds. Our minds are restless and difficult to tame. We can't sit all day and focus on this calming of our minds. Most of us are people in the world who must be about their daily duties. Some of life's demands require an active mind. An active mind that is focused is a mind that is present to the moment and the demands of the moment. It is a Zen mind. Perhaps the prescription for ADD is Zen practice. Better yet, perhaps Zen practice is preventative medicine for ADD. So, if I can borrow the title of a book I once read, "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There"!

The greatest support we can have is mindfulness, which means being totally present in each moment. If the mind remains centered, it cannot make up stories about the injustice of the world or one's friends, or about one's desires or sorrows. All these stories could fill many volumes, but when we are mindful such verbalizations stop. Being mindful means being fully absorbed in the moment, leaving no room for anything else. We are filled with the momentary happening, whatever it is--standing or sitting or lying down, feeling pleasure or pain--and we maintain a nonjudgmental awareness, a "just knowing."
-Ayya Khema, "Be an Island"

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