Even-Mindedness: Part 1
My friend Ari and I have been playing ping pong together for over 30 years. We play hard and have a great time and work up quite a sweat. We’re evenly matched and enjoy some fun rallies hitting the ball quickly back and forth. During our last game, it seemed I couldn’t do anything wrong. My mind was totally clear, my body relaxed, and no matter how fast the ball was coming, I seemed to effortlessly see what to do and had the lightness and energy to reach it.
I was even-minded.
Being even-minded usually isn’t too high on our personal hit lists. We wake up with the challenges and joys of the day ahead and the wheels start turning on how to get it all done or make sure our hopes work out. Most of us don’t wake up thinking, “I am going to be even minded today!” Yet being even-minded is central to our success in life, whether in work, family or any other endeavor. Even more importantly, it is key to our happiness and well-being.
We can become clouded by mental noise without realizing we have lost our clarity and our connection to wisdom and insight. Yet, many of us spend much of our days in this disconnected state. We once ran a program with a team that had new leadership. This team spent weeks in a mostly discontented, reactive state because their new CEO had a communication style that rubbed almost everyone the wrong way.
It was remarkable to see what happened when they calmed down while learning about how the mind works. The most reactive person – a young man who joined the company right out of college just one year earlier – took two full days to settle down. As soon as his equanimity returned, a revelation arose from within: he realized that the new CEO was innocently communicating as he always had, but no one was telling him about the impact of his style. This young man left the training room, went to the CEO’s office, and asked for an audience on the spot. After explaining why he was there, he was let in, and simply and matter of factly explained that the company was used to a different kind of messaging. The CEO thanked him, sent him back to our program, and then asked to see me to find out what we were teaching. He was ultimately quite impressed.
Lately, I have been going through a number of transitions requiring insight and clarity. For some reason, I have been randomly experiencing moments where scenes of enjoyable movies come to mind. During these moments, my mind flashes to little bits of adventure movies, Tom Hanks cameos, or various touching scenes. They seem to come in out of nowhere. While wondering why this was happening, I had a very interesting insight: I realized that during these movies, I am quiet, peaceful, and very much enjoying the moment. Usually, when I am enjoying a movie, I don’t notice that I am enjoying the movie, I just enjoy what I’m watching and think the enjoyment is coming from the movie. Ultimately, I know better, that my mind is in a state of enjoyment. The feelings are coming from within, not from the movie.
But something deeper arose from this wondering. I began to see that, instead of enjoying the memory of a scene from a movie, I could enjoy this moment, any moment, as if in a movie, for ultimately, my mind is a production studio, crafting and forging a movie of my own making of whatever sensory experiences are showing up. I am the director, the protagonist, and production studio of my own world.
What happened next surprised and delighted me. It occurred to me that I could be in life like I am when enjoying a movie. I dropped into a deeply quiet space, with my mind present and undistracted. A lovely peace and a quiet joy gently drifted into my being.
I am grateful to know how the mind works, so experiences and revelations like this can stay with me and I can orient myself to have them more regularly.
I have since found myself more consistently living in the space of a quiet presence, engaging in my family and work with a refreshing simplicity and ease. In a lovely way, the quality of my insights, efforts, and relationships is also reflecting this simplicity and ease.
This “space” is in all of us. You, too. It is what our potential for even-mindedness rests upon.
Next month’s newsletter, Part II, will take a deeper look at realizing the inside>out nature of life more fully, making our even-mindedness more stable and reliable.