When you’re overwhelmed it’s because the mind is making too many over-calculations based on past experience. The sub-conscious throws up fears, the mind calculates infinitely and you become overwhelmed. The basis of every block is simply thinking too much. The way to digest a problem is to break it down into bite sized chunks and when you’ve had your fill that day, rest and come back the next day.
The first thing to do when overwhelmed by a problem is step back and air it out. Breathing is the core of all meditation, so breathe deeply and if you know some breath exercises (pranayam) then use those techniques. Take everything associated with the problem and put is aside… outside the door, as it were.
All problems are finite because they relate to the finite world of this and that. When you close the eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, you have an opportunity to induce the infinite vastness of your spirit. The breath is a charge of life (prana) and it is the connection with the infinite part of you. So as you air out the problem by breathing, contemplate a few things:
- The earth spins… how? Who does that? What does that?
- The sun burns out there 93 million miles away. It keeps us and all things alive. How?
- You’re alive… how did that happen?
- Your soul assimilated to this world through the womb of a woman. Pretty incredible.
- You were born helpless and somehow you made it to this moment okay.
- It may have been bumpy up to this point, but you’re alive.
- You have the privilege of being human.
- You can create, unlike animals and plants. You have a mind.
Once you’ve aired out with these things, come back and grab that problem from outside the door. Chop it up into do-able, bite sized chunks. One way to do this is to make a list– a two column list of the following:
- Things I can do
- Things that are beyond my control
Most of your problems come from obsessing about #2. So make a black and white list and make it clear as day. Put it where you can see it. Make it a disciplined practice to accept the things that are beyond your control and have faith.
You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. –Albert Einstein
One time I was applying for this job I really wanted. It was the perfect position and it payed a lot of money. Several things happened that screwed it up. One was an email that mysteriously disappeared from my outbox, making me think I forgot to send them my references. A week later I called the recruiter and left a message saying, “The darndest thing happened, I never sent the references.” Later I found that the email had somehow gotten switched to a different folder. I was kicking myself repeatedly. I was sure the recruiter thought I was a nut, desperate and trying to force his hand.
I told my teacher about it. He shrugged very effortlessly and said, “I wouldn’t spend any time on it.” He looked me in the eye and continued: “It’s no longer in your sphere of control.”
I never forgot that.
If it’s beyond your sphere of control, release it, let it go. Get back to the list of things that you can do… and eat some good food. Why not?