Frustration is a debilitating emotion. In the last few blogs we have looked at the emotions of anxiety, anger and depression. All three of these can either be the result of or the cause of frustration. This may be frustration with your self, other people, the situation in general or the ongoing saga of covid. Working with people in various states of frustration I was reminded of the cow.
One day, many years ago, as a young man, I was frustrated and angry. My teacher, whose patience was wearing thin, told me ‘It is time to be with the cow’. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about but with some food and water I was left in a field of cows and told to talk to them and that he would be back later. At the time I had taken a vow of obedience and did what was asked of me.
It was a long and a hot day that increased my feelings of frustration. I looked at the cows, they looked at me. What I supposed to do? I started having many one sided conversations with the cows. I spoke in animated ways with one cow who gazed at me with lovely doe eyes and simply chewed the cud with the resigned patience of someone who has been given charge of a mad human to look after.
The cow and I sort of clicked. It was as though she knew what was going on in me and in her eyes was a stillness that also stilled my frustrated mind. You will think that I am really mad now but it was as though we were talking together at a deeper intuitive level. She was saying to me, ‘what’s the problem’. She was saying that life would go on day after day. She would come here chew cud and produce milk. ‘What was all the fuss?’ My teacher had told me that to the open mind everything and every being was a guru. When your mind is open you can learn so much everyday all the time.
The bottom line was that when my teacher returned he required me to explain what the cow had taught me. My learning from the day was that while I was rushing around the field in my frustration attempting to understanding something, anything, the cow, on the other hand, was happy to simply just ‘be’. To simply be a cow. The cow had a contentment in the moment and was not expecting or demanding anything else. My teacher simply nodded.
Later as I studied and practised meditation it occurred to me more and more that the cow had it right. To be content in the moment in the now with no concern what had been or what would be was now one of my own goals in my meditation. Learning to be, rather than needing to do, is now my guiding principle. My daily meditation is now my oasis of simply just being in the busy world of my doing. I have to thank the cow for her wisdom.
In my life and my work I am privileged to enter other people’s inner worlds, discover who they are and, where possible help them find who it is that they would really like to be and, where possible, change their lives. I love all that I do, though there is one downside. It can be easy, however skilled therapists become at avoiding it, to load up with other peoples stuff, their stories, feelings and pictures. In short, if I spend the day working with people that have been abused I can feel like I am back in the grips of abuse. The same is true when working with depressions or anxiety, OCD or bereavement.
In the confused sea of other people’s emotions the sane place to go is the still place deep within, and for me that means meditation. This is at least once a day through often it is more. This is a time when I do not need to rush around worrying about who I am. Then I have become the cow. I have learned to sit and become the observer of my own thoughts and feelings and not get carried away by frustration, worries or concerns. I can enjoy the time when no body wants anything and when I have nothing what so ever to do but spend sometime simply relax and being.
Then I empty my internal cupboard and do what I love best, work with other people.
How do you clear your emotional cupboard when it is full?