At the last weeklong semi-silent retreat I attended at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, we engaged in a dyad practice where we debriefed with the instruction “enough, for now.” We’d been in silence for a few hours, and then we were paired together to sit face-to-face and look into each other’s eyes for about 90 seconds. Then, one of us was invited to share what came up while the other person listened and then reflected back what they heard. Then we switched. Then we debriefed it together, then we debriefed as a group.
By the end of the switching back and forth, the instruction was “we’re keeping it to a couple of minutes—it’s ok if you don’t get to everything. It’s enough, for now.”
When we were debriefing at the end of the day, I mentioned how transformational “enough, for now” was for me because it created space to just share what was arising, rather than feeling like I needed to name every single thing or say as many things as I could. It created a spaciousness and an okayness with stopping talking when I was finished rather than rattling on while I scrambled to find something else worth saying.
It also loosened up the need to say it before I forget it or feeling like I was trying to capture something elusive that will flee if I don't note it immediately. I can trust that if there’s something that needs to be thought or said and there isn’t time now, it’ll emerge again when the time is right. This is a major learning for me, as well as an active practice of trusting I'll say what needs to be said or remember the great idea I had. I have lived with chronic migraine since 1996, and one of the effects I experience is that sometimes I can't find my words. This is extremely frustrating, as well as oftentimes inconvenient in my work as a teacher and facilitator. I've experienced a certain kind of terror-- with strong dashes of embarrassment, frustration, anger, disbelief, and grief-- standing in front of a room of people, eyes on me, while I desperately try to find the word I'm looking for. Now, if my present moment awareness is functioning in those moments, I'll pause, take a breath, and remember "that's enough, for now."
I’ve been playing with “enough, for now” in my personal practice as part of my self-care. This has shown up as offering to roast a pork loin and potatoes instead of a turkey and a bunch of sides for Thanksgiving dinner for our gathering of three people last year. Sometimes it shows up as saying, "I'm only going to stay for an hour of this 90 minute gathering because it's late, and I need to rest." Sometimes it's more mundane, such as, "Oh, it's break time because I didn't realize I've been hunched over this computer for so long." Recently it showed up as, "We've got all the cats we can care for right now... what other kinds of support do you need? Maybe we can help a different way." In each case, "enough, for now" meant exactly that. It doesn't mean I'll never prepare a big Thanksgiving meal again or attend an evening gathering or get carried away with a spreadsheet or writing project or adopt another cat. It simply means, in those moments, I decided "enough, for now."
How might it feel to you to try on "enough, for now" as you look at your To Do List, the never-ending needs of the people you care for and the work you do?
How much training, practicing, prepping, and researching is enough for you to begin the thing you're secretly desperate to try? What might it feel like to take one step in support of it, rather than a giant leap? Isn't that a form of "enough, for now"?
As I've been talking about this practice with people, it has occurred to me that striving and getting stuck in I HAVE TO DO ALL OF THE PARTS OF THIS AS I IMAGINED IT IN MY MIND likely arises from the cultural conditioning I have that warns me that there are finite resources/opportunities/pieces of pie, and I'd better grab all I can. It stokes up my amygdala, which leaves me in distress, anxious, and competitive. It comes from an assumption of lack.
If I get curious about this conditioning, though, I've found it can help me skillfully determine when I'm at "enough, for now" and when I'm going to keep going a little longer. This happens to me quite often when I'm working in the garden, especially if the weather forecast says temperatures are changing or precipitation is coming soon. Then I might decide to take a shorter break and then continue on. The difference is I've considered the options and made a choice, one might even say I've done that "mindfully."
How might it feel to trust yourself by using the "enough, for now" practice? I'm looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.