Manfred Hellrigl

Gathering the spirit. Alone or in a group.

Zen monks are known to meditate every day. Not only that, but they also gather, usually once a month, to meditate for several days at a time. All other work in the monastery is then reduced to a minimum. Because this gives them the opportunity to collect the mind.

I like to imagine this gathering of the mind as a bowl into which one slowly pours precious tea. The individual drops of tea collect at the bottom and then form a puddle that grows larger.

Such a collected, relaxed, focused mind is a beautiful thing. Not only does it feel good, but it ennobles and enriches all of our doing and being, no matter what we do.

Just stop and do nothing

You don’t have to be a Zen monk to collect your thoughts. We can all take the time now and then to sit down, and relax, and focus. Let everything else go for a while. Just do nothing, pause, be still, so that our scattered minds can gather.

Instead of being constantly distracted by things, instead of constantly rushing from one thing to another, we can take a moment and look at where we are. What state am I in right now? Physically and mentally. Why is it like this? What actually brought me to where I am right now? Where did I actually want to go?

By giving ourselves a little time out every now and then, we can focus our attention on ourselves. Give yourself attention and easily and without much effort you will find a little more calm, clarity, determination and inner peace.

Alone or together: facing what needs attention

The exciting thing is that this is a process that can be done not only alone, but also together with other people, i.e. in groups or as a team. With very similar effects.

You can also come together as a group to gather the spirit. Completely without gongs and incense. Just to focus. To focus together.

You create a space where you are undisturbed for a short time, even if it is only a few minutes. Without distractions if possible. And then we face it. We face what is. We face what is by asking ourselves some basic questions. Questions that are waiting for us to give them our attention, our undivided attention:

  • Where are we right now? Where are we at this moment?
  • How are we doing as a team, as a group, as a project, as a company, as a community, as a society?
  • What state are we in?
  • Why is it the way it is?
  • What has brought us to where we are right now? What assessments, what decisions, what events?
  • Where do we actually want to go? Where did we actually want to go?
  • What can we learn from our past experiences?
  • What has worked? What was successful? What serves us well?
  • What less so? What should we pay more attention to?

Finding clarity and orientation

By reflecting and focusing together, important learning processes can take place on both an individual and a collective level. The ability to gather and focus mentally is an important skill that can benefit us both as individuals and as a group. It is how much needed clarity can emerge. It’s how we can find direction, strength and determination in the midst of turmoil and chaos. Maybe even a little hope. And confidence that we can overcome even this challenge we are facing right now. By standing together. Working together. Cooperating. Joining forces. Combining our talents and abilities. That’s how amazing things happen. In fact, it’s the only way.

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