I was reading Stephen Cope’s Yoga and the Quest for the True Self last night, and I got to his chapter about identity and read this:
[The retreat] opened my eyes to the extraordinary amount of time my mind spent in monitoring and evaluating my success or failure, and in making reality match my ideal image of myself. With my newfound awareness, I would notice how there seemed to be an endless tape-loop in my mind that evaluated my progress: “OK, now I’ve accomplished this, and this, and this. Now I have this much money in the bank. Now I’ve made this progress in my career, I’m doing alright…”
The internal dialogue is actually a form of self-soothing, of reassuring ourselves that we’re really OK. When we stand can stand back from this compulsive internal dialogue just a bit, we can see the intensity of the craving for solidity and security that drives it.
After having spent so many days reorganizing my workspace and setting up my action lists, when I read this passage in Cope’s book, I realized that the Getting Things Done system I’ve begun using is actually quite yogic. By separating whole projects (project sheets) from next actions (action lists), we remove outcomes from our constant scrutiny and instead allow ourselves to focus only on what needs to be done in the present moment. That is to say, we’re no longer fixated on what we have or haven’t done (the past) or what we expect to achieve (the future), but can be fully present in the now. Amazing! This system does what I have been trying to do for the past year: just do, without dwelling on what might come of it. Perhaps this is the real reason why it feels so calming and focusing to use the action lists.