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One of the stories I like to tell about my journey of waking up to the power of meditation is that of relocating from one continent to another and discovering that after a very short while I recreated the an unpleasant dynamic with a supervisor that I was aiming to leave behind.
I was hopeful that with a new start, in a new work environment, and in a new culture, a new me would emerge. In part, that was accurate, however, a lot of the personality quirks that caused me trouble in my previous work environment surfaced quickly and presented the same stumbling blocks they had before.
When in college I tended to let my living environment get untidy till eventually I would become frustrated and sufficiently distracted by the disorder that it got in the way of my ability to study. Rearranging the furniture can bring a new, fresh look to a familiar room, it's true, and I would rearrange things from time to time in a flurry of tidy-up-inspiration. In short order, the space would begin to deteriorate as I left draws open, put items where they didn't belong, forgot to empty trash and all the other practices I was accustomed to. Something in my attitude had to change before I set in place the new practices that would nurture a supportive, even inspiring environment.
Later, in spiritual studies I learned that the attitude shift is sometimes referred to as a change in consciousness, or a change in mind or awareness. From that type of inner change, outer changes seem to flow without force of effort, and seem to have longer life span. I discovered that making those changes in awareness was less an act of affirmation than it was as a result of introspection and slowing down enough to witness the way things are in mind. For me, shifts in attitude came more easily and more frequently when I learned how to sit in quietness and observe my inner life.
When my living environment gets chaotic now, I both tidy it up, rearrange the furniture and I take time to sit in quiet wittiness of what is going on inside.