I've moved to San Mateo, California from Columbus, Ohio and when I left Columbus I left King Ave Methodist Church which was a huge loss for me. In San Mateo now, i've joined a Mondo Zen virtual sangha.
Joining Mondo Zen means making a commitment to 5 daily practices:
1. Daily meditation of an hour
2. Stewardship vow - do something for others or the earth
3. Daily reading of Mondo Zen book guides of 10 mins a day
4. 30 mins of movement meditation (like yoga) 3 times a week at least
5. Work on an emotional koan
It is this last piece that I want to write about.
An emotional koan is an emotional puzzle. Some place in your life where you are going into old patterns and it is getting old and no longer serving you. So, this is a challenge to take your responses to a familiar cause-effect pattern to a new level and grow.
My current emotional koan is what I do in response to two things I experience on a frequent basis:
1) Verbal put-downs in regards to my skills in the work arena.
2) Not receiving straight answers from people who I know have the information. For some reason, they aren't giving the answers up. This is also in the work arena. The reasons for this vary greatly.
My habitual patterns are defensiveness and frustration.
The new patterns I want to learn are shrugging laughter and acceptance/surrender to what is for whatever reason.
In order to learn new patterns, one has to slow it down in the moment and catch the energy rising and divert it.
Slogans or mantras can help with this process. A new ritual can help too.
So, for the put-downs:
slogan for when i receive a put-down - "I did what I could and I'll do what I can, I can see we are in a dilbert cartoon in this moment."
ritual - just fix posture, breath, smile, and return to your work
For the no-answers:
slogan for when I receive no-answers or blocking to answers - "OK. that is a dead-end. I accept that. What can I do to work on this without continuing down this route?"
ritual - open a piece of paper and just list some things you can do in a different route to find out the answer. If you can't find out the answer, then what other project could you work on or what other tasks could you do?
Learning to handle these two things with skill is a game changer for me. It makes me less reactive and much more skillful in my life.
And in Mondo Zen, it is a part of becoming awakened spiritually. If we meditate and meditate and are still reactive in our daily lives then we haven't woken up. We haven't learned to live skillfully.