just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Give It All You’ve Got

Published on 01/06/15
by randy


I was raised on a southern Minnesota dairy farm under the influence of Norwegian heritage. There was an emphasis on ‘doing your best’. I recall the phrase, “Idle hands are the work of the devil” as my parents commanded me to keep occupied in contributing to the farm enterprise. I’ve later seen this to be a command for quality. In later years I heard a similar command from coaches and spiritual teachers. It had the smack of “why bother if it’s just going to be a half-hearted job” running in my mind. In 1972 I practiced with a Japanese Zen master who often spoke of “whole hearted action”. He was talking about making the body and mind fully present, practicing living with ‘full devotion’. Another teacher spoke of doing things with ‘our flesh and bones’. There’s something about this that realizes just how precious and fragile the life moment is. Suddenly we’re more aware of what we’re doing. We’re more aware of distracting thoughts and emotions that bubble up, drawing our attention from the quality of our activity.

When we touch the moment we go deeper. We’re better able to let go those distractions coming up from our restlessness. When our doing is centered in being awareness, quality deepens and effort diminishes. There’s no more looking for praise or recognition from the outside. There’s just a wonderful sense of ‘fullness’. Brother David calls this ‘great fullness’ and relates it back to relationship with gratefulness. When we trust our own blossoming, supported by that which is beyond our small notions of separateness, giving it all we’ve got just happens. On the other hand, when we hold rigid in our notions of separateness and ‘not belonging to the whole’, we’re caught in fear and greed, forever aiming to control others and our world.

I find it strange to see the paradox in ‘giving it all you’ve got’ married to ‘law of least effort’. When surrendered in faith to what come’s up we deepen our practice. When you listen to those who’ve reached depths in their area of expertise, often they speak of ‘flow’, ‘in the zone’, ‘peak performance’. This is characterized by surrender to that which is bigger than their ego’s attempts to limit. There’s appreciation for that which has inspired the strength and intention to give it all we’ve got. I’ll always remember those relatives, teachers and coaches who’ve inspired me to live life from whole hearted action. The practices of concentration, meditative behavior and mindfulness may be the most important skills for living a successful live when directed to serving one another and the planet. Our actions will be less likely to harm when driving from the combination of ‘just do it’ and ‘just be it’.

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