During the most recent altMBA meet-up, Mark Guay and I met at Trilogy Sanctuary - a beautifully vibrant locale. Mark brought two books to give to me based on his inspiration after reading my blog (this blog) and having visited Chicano Park. I am touched. So thoughtful and heartfelt.
Once we got into the meat of the meeting, as I was sipping a cup of cold brew coffee after weeks without coffee, I found myself feeling a bit unhinged, excited, talking and talking, organizing my thoughts as I explained my feelings of being overwhelmed, of feeling like a hamster running in a wheel. Mark jotted notes on sticky notes as I spoke. He interjected, even interrupted me at one point, and I am glad that he did. I had started my spiel with the premise that I felt unorganized.
"It's not that you are unorganized," he told me, "you seem very organized, using two digital calendars and a self-made journal organizer. You aren't prioritizing effectively." He asked a few key questions, like, "How many people do you have that you can delegate to?" I have at least four that I can consistently delegate to, and with some of my plans for added staff roles, even more. Am I effectively delegating though. Not yet. Mark brought up mindfulness, and I explained that I practice various forms of mindfulness on a regular basis.
And then the it hit him. "Do you journal? Not like this bullet journal, but write, just to get thoughts out and onto the page?" he asked. "Not recently, no." "Try five minute brain dumps every morning, or at night," he suggested, "write whatever comes to mind. It will help clear your mind." It didn't strike me at first as potentially the key to my de-stressing, the throwing off of the hamster wheel blanket; until we went downstairs and while heading to our cars Mark mentioned one of his favorite Buddhist Koans (and one of my favorites as well):
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”How can I possibly focus on any one thing when my cup is overflowing? I must first empty my cup.
Bullet journaling is key and I have noticed benefits to clarity and focus when I commit the time to fully engage and work on my journal daily - at least 15 minutes every day to clear my cache, check on upcoming tasks and events, and set my intentions for the day. What I have not been engaging in is brain dump journaling, stream of consciousness writing for the sake of writing and clearing my mind. I used to write in a journal everyday in my youth. Maybe the hamster wheel of achievement and career accomplishment, of family obligations and commitments, got in the way? No matter what the reason was that I stopped - I will start a daily writing journal today. (And I look forward to the mental health benefits of my writing).
I will empty my cup, and when I pour too much in, I will empty it again.