Don’t count on external conditions is about practising mind training and meditation no matter what’s going on in your life. Whether your circumstances are favourable or not, practice anyway.
The original lojong slogan is: Don’t be swayed by external circumstances, which reminds you that you can’t control reality. You can only control your reaction to it.
You may not be able to control external conditions but you can do something about your own thoughts. You can choose to meditate no matter what’s happening or how you’re feeling. The goal of mind training isn’t to stop things from changing or to control how things turn out or even to know what to do. You practice mind training so you can deal with whatever happens in a more flexible and patient way.
You can choose to pay attention to whatever is happening with mindfulness and a willingness to be present. You don’t have to wait for your life to be perfect before you start to practice, and there’s no need to use difficult circumstances as an excuse to avoid it.
You can practice anyway.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by writing every day, no matter what. Writers are very inventive when it comes to making excuses to avoid writing. One of the worst excuses is that the circumstances of your life don’t support your desire to write.
But whatever your excuses may be, this slogan reminds you not to count on external conditions. Life is too messy and unpredictable and you can’t always make things work the way you want. If you wait for the perfect conditions in which to write, you’ll never write anything.
Look at the excuses you make when the conditions of your life aren’t perfect and ask yourself if there’s anything you can do about them. Some of the conditions you think you need may not be so necessary and you should be able to work around them. Others may be easy to fix. If you need more time, reorganise your schedule and delegate some of your responsibilities. If you need support, join a writing group.
Exercise: In your slogan journal, list all the excuses you have used to avoid writing.
More in the book – available here: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
Image: Chaos Beckons