Working Hard to Stay Open – Reflections on Week 2

just rolling with it sketch headshotI focused on open awareness in Week  2 of the Challenge and am grateful to have this forum to share my reflections with you. Focusing on Open Awareness really brought my tendencies to narrow-in and close-off, especially when I’m in what I call the messy middle ground, to the forefront of my awareness last week.

Right now I’m existing in what I call the messy middle ground. In my mind, the messy middle ground is that place of being in-between where we’re coming from and where we’re going. I’ve found that I experience this messy middle ground mainly when I’m trying to replace a bad habit with a better one, as well as when I am where I am now, at a crossroad in my career.

The commonality between these scenarios is that in both of them, the messy middle ground is uncomfortable, scary and can really test one’s resolve to continue moving away from the old and toward the new. This is because in the messy middle ground, while we’re fighting hard to continue making positive changes, we may not have started to enjoy the benefits of those changes. The old ways of doing things are also usually still close enough to exert a pull that we can feel and still have to consciously and continually resist. 

Combine these factors with the fear of not knowing what’s ahead and if what we think is ahead is really possible (can things really get better?) and you have the messy middle ground. I personally experience a strong tension in the messy middle ground as well, as a result of struggling against the pull of the old, while having to harness and direct the energy to progress toward the new and hopefully positive, better direction.

Focusing on open awareness while in this messy middle ground helped me understand how strong my tendencies are to narrow-in and close-off when I feel this tension. By narrowing-in, I think I tell myself that if I can focus all of my energy on a very narrow point, the intensity that results may help burn through the doubt and keep shining the light forward on the better path.

Closing-off is a result of a “me-against-the-world” approach that I’ve adopted over the years, for reasons I’m just beginning to understand. In the open awareness chapter of Real Happiness at Work, Sharon gave a great example of someone else who was able to move away from their own “me-against-the-world” mindset, which was particularly inspiring to me as I read it during Week 2.

Adding a couple of different open awareness meditations to my routine did seem to help reset my mind to “Big Mind” throughout the day, particularly where I would find myself narrowing-in and closing-off the most. I noticed the strongest tendencies to narrow-in and close-off as I would approach breaks in the day or the end of the day. I think it’s at these points where I started to feel some despair in that I had pushed things along as far as I could in the new direction and the time for me to keep pushing and making progress was, at least temporarily, coming to an end. More on this later 🙂

I’m going to continue using the practice of open awareness in the upcoming weeks of the 28-Day Challenge to battle these tendencies to narrow-in and close-off, that I’ve become more aware of through Week 2 of the 28-Day Challenge. Maybe that might help make the messy middle ground a little bit easier and better to be in while I need to be there.

Are there times you find yourself in the messy middle ground as well? Let’s discuss in the comments!