Doing It Wrong, Mindfully

I feel like stabbing you in the neck with a fork, but I won't

In “Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go — Redux” the concept of what is “truth” in a conflict between people was written about. Like in “Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go” the only real conclusion reached is shit and mistakes happen.

If neither party can apologize and/nor make amends with the other party, there’s a good chance the relationship will be lost; regardless of if the mistake happened purposefully or through a misunderstanding.

In this post we get to another angle of the conflict – doing it wrong, mindfully.

“The  feeling of dread[fear] can be a sign to go ahead and pursue something, just to overcome the fear that otherwise will continue to limit us.”

— Cheri Huber, Zen teacher and student

Doing it wrong means just that, do it wrong. Go against what “should” be done, go against the conventional wisdom so many feel inclined to give that may be more a reflection of their internal processing system then them accepting your processing system and giving advice based upon that. So do it wrong, but do it wrong mindfully.a

Essentially, doing it wrong mindfully, means that when you embrace doing it wrong, you are doing so with a goal in mind

The goal may be to understand why you are responding to the situation like you are or it may be because you need to live something out, like a horrible situation, in order to understand it — why it came to be, why you are in it, and so on. If you don’t have a goal in mind then you’re just doing it wrong. The goal of doing it wrong mindfully is the gift of noticing the consequences and benefits of your choices.

In a passage from the book This Side of Nirvana by Sara Jenkins, Jenkins recounts a story told by Zen teacher Cheri Huber about True Sickening Dread (TSD). TSD is fear plus the “deep-down knowledge that we are going to do this thing anyway, with the willingness to go into it and see whatever we see.”  To Huber, TSD is a sign of courage on the part of the person engaging in the practice. Huber also says that buying into “should” and “ought to” messages when acting on fear “just reinforces egocentricity.”

“If people have difficulty without being aware of the difficulty, that is true difficulty….Something may vanish for them. But if your effort is in the right direction, then there is no fear of losing anything. Even if it is in the wrong direction, if you are aware of that, you will not be deluded.”
–Shunryu Suzuki, Zen master

Just because you may not be angry or acting angry because you are acting on a “should” or “ought to,” it doesn’t mean that you are in any better position to help your situation; especially if you are still limited in your understanding of the difficulties of the situation you are in.

But how do you know when you’re not just doing it wrong because you aren’t getting what you want?

Every desire is based on a want — a want for safety, love, security, respect, etc. Routine self-acceptance and self-acknowledgment of all your feelings in the moment can help you accept these moments of dread when they happen (instead of running away from them) and routinely accepting your feelings from moment-to-moment can help you build self-confidence in your ability to accurately predict what you are feeling at any moment.

Another thing that will help you stay mindful is asking yourself what your goal is when engaging in the behavior. If your goal is to make this person feel hurt, then yes you are being mindful but you aren’t being very nice. And maybe you feel they are owed that unkindness, so be it. (However you will have to learn what you need to move pass that stage if you want the relationship to continue.) The point is knowing that this is where you are right now.

But that doesn’t answer the question Eds.

Because there is no answer, you always want something. The true dilemma is figuring out if what you want is reasonable at the time you are asking for it. And that is a question, imo, best left to the individual (or individuals) involved.


And if you are wondering, the author did it wrong mindfully.


3 thoughts on “Doing It Wrong, Mindfully

  1. Pingback: Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go — Redux « Queens and Bees

  2. Pingback: How To Deal with Anger, Mindfully « Queens and Bees

  3. Pingback: I Am Such An Apologist « Queens and Bees

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