Start Where You Are

trailhead 2There is an old Buddhist expression “Start where you are.”  I cannot tell you how helpful this very simple phrase has been to me lately.  There are so many times where I overanalyze, overwork, and just feel overwhelmed.  What am I going to do about this?  And how am I going to explain that?  And then these four magnificent words come into my head… “Start where you are.”  And I know what I have to do.

I was first made aware of this expression when reading Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White. The idea is when you are facing what appears to be a big challenge, don’t become paralyzed by the bigness of the end goal or by the confusion of the right path to take.   You simply get going and let the journey unfold from there.  For me, there are three main components to this…

Accept Where You Are.  I have a key chain that says “Be Here” on one side and “Be Now” on the other.  I use this as reminder to be present wherever I am.  The irony of this makes me laugh, because when I am carrying my keys with me I am going somewhere, so it is even more of a challenge to be where I’m at.  But, wherever I am going, whatever is happening – that is where I need to be at that moment. Sometimes it’s not fun, sometimes it’s really not where you want to be, sometimes you don’t know how you got there.  But, you are there and must accept it and be with it and go from there.  It takes honesty and courage.  But, the reality is you cannot go from somewhere else, you cannot fast forward or skip to the end.  YOU ARE HERE.

Get Started.  At times, taking that first step is so flipping hard.  It just seems like the inertia takes over and there is no movement.  The more you think about getting started the bigger the effort seems.  I find the most fruitful thing to do in those situations is to simply not think.  So against everything we have been programmed to do!  We have all heard the saying by Lao Tzu “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  The analytical mind wants to focus on the thousand miles – how tough the journey will be, how will you get there, what obstacles you will hit, what if you take a wrong step, will you really be able to make it.  If you allow yourself to go down that rabbit hole, you will never do it.  But, if you just concentrate on taking one step – heck, that’s pretty easy, right?  We are all so programmed to be goal oriented, but I’m finding it is better to just go.  You have to surrender and the rest will fall into place (or not), but either way you have done it simply by taking that first step.

Repeat Often.  As your journey gets underway and you are flowing, you will have many new moments.  You are no longer where you were.  You have a “new now”.  And you have to accept where you are and you have to start from there.  You cannot hold on to expectations of how things were supposed to go.  This is such an incredibly difficult thing.  You have too many stories and pictures in your head that are not helpful.  You have to let them go.  This is where the diligence comes in, because when things don’t turn out how you hoped, it again does no good to overanalyze or go back and start over.  You have to start where you are at that moment… again… and again… and again.

It has been a long time since my last blog post, and I was overcome with a desire to explain it, to justify it, to make it part of some grand story.  This desire, which seems to serve no real purpose as I look back now, had prevented me from getting back to this blog so many times.  Getting started was hard.  And then I remembered this brilliantly simple concept –  I just need to start where I am.  And that is what I’m going to continue to do.

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