Last Monday, I initiated the first of a 20-week Meditation series, inspired by and centered on Marc and Angel's 20 Things to Stop Doing.
Week 1 was Stop Holding Grudges and the week's focused intention and energy led to important realizations and understandings of grudges and why letting them go, and not creating new grudges is important.
Week 2 is a big challenge. Stop Complaining. My apologies to my mother today, who is visiting and to whom I spent much of my day "venting" my frustrations. Venting is just another word for complaining isn't it?
When we hit harder times in life (and the little ones are both sick and you aren't sleeping through the night), venting seems essential, necessary and inevitable.
I am trying to learn that it is not. I am hoping to retrain myself. After Stop Complaining, on their blog, Marc and Angel say, "instead, spend your time and energy to do something about it."
Feeling lost makes it harder to stop the complaining because you may not know, yet, what the "do something" is. However, complaining is definitely not the something that needs to be done -- easier to know than implement. This will certainly be a challenge and will build on last week as one complaint today reminded me of a grudge I had not let go.
I guess that means this 20 week meditation is like a snowball rolling down a hill with each week bringing with it continued focus on the goal from the week before, as well as the new goal.
Today, I failed, utterly failed. I complained and complained. To stop I must admit that I sometimes do not know what to do about a challenge I am facing. I don't need to know, though. I can start by finding a way to sit quietly and release the negative energy wrapped up in the challenge. I can invite positive energy into my world because continued negativity will not get me there. It will not get me to the ideas and actions that will lead to positive change. Negativity will only lead to more things to complain about -- and that I definitely don't want.
So, I have a long way to go. It's not easy to stop complaining, but it is necessary. With each week, I am connecting one chapter of the Thich Nhat Hanh book, True Love, with that week's goal. The chapter I am focusing on this week is called "Learning to Speak with Love Again."
He speaks of pacifists who can write letters of condemnation, but not letters of love -- and of the importance of writing and speaking in a way that encourages receptive listening. Complaining does not. I've noticed that when others complain a lot, I can shut off/close down. I do not want to speak in a way that brings others down or pushes them a way. I must learn to speak with love -- and speaking with love requires meditation and the examination, TNH reminds me, of one's suffering and joy. By understanding the true source of our suffering (of our complaints), we can gain solidity, freedom, calm and joy.