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The Art of Organizing (part 1 of 2)

Prompted by a friend’s request to meet up with me next week to discuss ways of being more organized, I decided to utilize her inquiry to fashion this post. My friend explained that while she spends her days feeling super busy, she doesn’t get anything done. Her judgement was that I am someone who takes care of a lot of different things, accomplishes a lot, and is very organized, all of which, I would agree, are true. She also knows that I actively practice being a non-busy type of person – so, basically she’s looking for some how-to advice.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I would be able to pass along to her by way of useful information, as I’ve never thoroughly dissected what it means to be organized and efficient. For me, being organized is something that comes very naturally and is in my blood – both my maternal grandfather and my mom were/are especially adept at it. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve come to realize that being organized is a skill-set that often causes me to stand out, in the sense that it’s a talent many others wish they had.

But it quickly occurred to me that my friend’s request posed a great opportunity for me to attempt to put some of this into words in the form of practical applications to implement. So, as a Dharma teacher-in-training interested in stripping things down to nuts & bolts, here’s what I have to offer on the subject of honing the art of organizing:

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Priorities

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In two weeks I’ll be traveling to southern California to spend four weeks on retreat at Deer Park Monastery (in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh).  It will be my 3rd annual trip there, each time in January.  The first year I went I spent four weeks and went by myself.  The second year I went for two weeks and my husband Mike came along with me.  This year Mike and I are going together but he’ll be flying home after spending two weeks while I stay on for another two more weeks.  I’m very much looking forward to the trip and the retreat and consider it a great privilege to be able to attend.

For the past few weeks during my morning meditation sit I’ve been mentally and energetically transported to Deer Park in the folds of predawn’s silence.  I close my eyes and the darkness of my living room becomes the darkness of the meditation hall at Deer Park.  When I sing the morning chant it’s as if I’m singing it in the brothers small dharma hall in Solidity Hamlet (where the monks reside and practice at Deer Park) the same way I had done so last January for my fellow lay practitioners one morning.  I can almost feel the cool chill of the ocean adjacent grounds of the monastery sifting through me, the wide, white tiles of the brothers dharma hall underneath me, and the sweet smile of the Buddha surrounding me (see pic above, from the brothers dharma hall).

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