Eleven Practices – Small Manageable Bites

May 23, 2010

Take one thing/ idea/ symbol/ mythic aspect. Keep it manageable, not global. Refine it down til its manageable. Take only one part of the whole. If that’s too big a bite, take part of the part. Then, gather ideas, thoughts, dreams, daydreams, facts about your one thing.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Focus… narrow and diffuse… When I read Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, I was fascinated by her discussion of diffuse awareness. Women who are mothers know this well. We can be doing lots of different things and being quite productive in a trance like state, and the children are playing contentedly and not needing us. And yet as soon as the awareness shifts from diffuse to focused – like we sit down to pay bills, or write a letter, or answer the phone… the children sense that the field of awareness has shifted and suddenly they need us urgently and desperately and they are tugging at our pants leg.

Once I became aware of that interconnectivity I was endlessly fascinated that my son could sense my change in focus even when he was in a different room. I think this ability to shift between the two states of being is what makes women so successful at all we take on… and I think it is what at times can make us so annoyed with our partners who have underdeveloped diffuse awareness!

Just this morning I was talking to my husband about feeling like I am a spider in a huge web of interconnectivity. One small movement in the web, and I am instantly aware and seeking to trace the vibration back to its source. Is it something that needs my attention? Is it something I want to know more about? What is it? Does it just need to be filed away for future experience? I do this constantly and effortlessly and yet I do think at times there can be an exhaustion in the intense alertness and awareness that feels so familiar, I don’t even notice it. This is the antithesis of One thing. This is all things all the time all at once.

So this second practice… makes me think about the one thing… THE one thing, the ONE thing, the one THING and how at times in my life when I have done this one thing practice, I have been immensely productive.

I am no closer to choosing my one thing (and as soon as I say that – I hear the words YES YOU ARE!) so I guess I should say I am equivocating about the one thing… and reluctant to make a commitment to it.

But it is a “one thing’ I have been intrigued by and has been a thread through much of my writing here.

So… I am waiting… continuing to compost – metaphorically, and literally!

I have found a new source of free manure blended with saw dust. I have been spreading it in the community garden and plan to let some of it cook and cool in my home compost pile. And as the heat burns through all that needs to die… and as it cools and the worms move in to do their slow work, I will be paying attention to how the outer mirrors the inner mirrors the outer process of heat followed by cooling.

Having identified your one thing? Is it too much? A big gulp not a small bite? How does it need to be reduced so as to be manageable? How many times have you (or me!) not started because the one thing was too much, too big, too unwieldly so we stop before we start. And what would happen if that one thing was reduced to a manageable thing that got the best most focused part of you?

This done, there is then the action part of the work – the gathering. I am really good at gathering, but I tend to gather everything about everything and then get overwhelmed. And I like that way of gathering everything about everything… and sometimes it would be better to gather with more discernment, about one thing instead.

The one thing – in small manageable bites.


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