Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Austerities at work 2: saumya

This week I'm adding saumya (gentleness) to my work-practice. It's a four-day week for me which should make the layering-on of saumya over last week's manah-prasadah a little less daunting.

What I'm remembering from practice is that this gentleness that Krishna speaks of to Arjuna is not to be confused with weakness. Rather than an absence of strength, saumya is instead the discernment and application of exactly as much strength as is needed in any given situation, no more, no less. It's also a self-gentleness, appreciating where you are in any moment.

So far I have to say that saumya has been an extremely rewarding practice for this day. Rather than become upset that my boss has yet again taken on an area of work that I thought was mine to do, I am softly, gently, and genuinely watching that and considering. [Of course, to be honest, I should say that the exact words that ran through my mind initially were, "Ok, take that piece, too. As long as I get paid the same amount, why should I be upset?"]

The other aspect of saumya that I'm experimenting with today is working more gently, i.e., slowly. I generally push very hard, work very fast, do a lot. Today I am moving more deliberately, without the rush-rush. Truly my tendency to over-work never serves me in the long run, since it establishes ever-escalating expectations. Using too much force has never done me that much good at work.

The fact that I had the best weekend in recent memory is helping me a lot here. I'm still coasting along on all of that love and good feeling, all of the harmony and delight, and guarding that little flame. Gentleness will surely keep that flame burning, not too big a gust of wind, just small quiet breaths.

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