I have practiced Zen (Zazen) meditation for a number of years. The longer I practice meditation in the Zen school, the more I am able to see. Actually, the more I allow myself to see.
My mind still wanders as I have come to accept it always will. This is the nature of the mind. I have learned to bring it back to the one thing over which I have any control, my breathing. I have learned to do this without judgment. It’s only a thought. My meditation practice reminds me that it’s important to accept these things as they are. It is what it is.
I’ve spent 32- plus years as a social worker doing both mental health and substance abuse counseling. After all these years of working with clients, I continue to find myself occasionally frustrated with my assessment of their lack of progress. When these thoughts arise, I remind myself I am judging. These judgments are in no way helpful. They hurt my clients. They hurt my relationship with my clients. They hurt me because I am limiting what I can do to help them move beyond a stuck point. I think the thoughts, I feel the feelings, I do not judge either and I do not allow myself to linger in that place which can become a place of darkness.
I often think about the old maxim of social work and that is to meet the client where they are. Occasionally I struggle with this. I have learned and accepted this struggle is not the issue, not the concern; it is my unwillingness to not recall the importance of not judging the thoughts I am having which causes me to set an unrealistic expectation for my relationship with my clients. This is true of any and all relationships in my life. My Zazen practice reminds me that my clients are or were not the benefactor of my family, my education and the education and supervision which I have been lucky enough to have had. I accept that my frustration is actually fear, the same fears I had for myself and my own lack of progress. To some degree, I continue to harbor these thoughts and feelings and again I remind myself to not judge those thoughts. They are simply thoughts.
Over the last decade I have seen changes in my profession which have led me toward increased frustration. The changes are too numerous to mention. Some, like many changes, are beneficial and some not so much. Again Zazen has helped me pick and choose my battles. To be able to manage my responses.
Again, my meditation practice has reminded me that like any other thing in my life, I have no control. Control is an illusion. Any control I have is solely grounded in my response to those stressors.