When dealing with problems,
the Tao Te Ching tells us that
"Wise people seek solutions; The ignorant only cast blame."
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 79)
As I write in The Tao of Inner Peace, by studying nature, we discover the principles of Tao. And by cooperating with these principles, we can learn to solve problems more effectively. Taoist problem solving helps us see our place in the larger pattern and not let fear and ego demands narrow our perspective.
All around us, we see people reacting from fear: blaming others, playing the victim, having tantrums, making demands, or seeking revenge—doing everything but solving the problem. Neuroscience research tells us why—When we experience problems as a threat, we get swept up into the primal fear reaction of fight or flight. This makes us defensive, falling into shaming and blaming instead of focusing on solving our problems.
The first step in Taoist problem solving is to recognize when we're stressed, PAUSE, and take slow deep breaths to break the stress reaction. Then we can look to the larger patterns, perceiving the Taoist vision of Oneness, the common ground we share.
When I was in graduate school at UCLA, I lived in Santa Monica, a few blocks from the beach. As a first generation college student in the PhD program, when I felt stressed by my studies, I'd walk down to a hill overlooking the beach, breathe in the salt sea air, and realize that I was part of a source beyond my ego, a source of infinite inspiration. Then I'd walk back to my apartment, with an expansive sense of possibility and new answers, new solutions would come to me.
If you'd like to begin this practice now, please join me in this brief meditation:
Take a deep, mindful breath and slowly release it.
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing—
Breathing in peace, breathing out tension.
In your mind's eye, visualize yourself standing by the ocean,
Looking out to the sea and sky,
Breathing in the salt sea air,
Feeling one with the ocean,
One with the sky,
One with the infinite creative energies of nature.
As you breathe in that awareness, one with the source.
Hold out your hand and offer your current question or problem to that source,
Releasing it to the shining waves of the ocean as you slowly breathe out.
Now smile as you take a long deep breath and release it.
When you are ready, gently open your eyes.
The answer to your question, the solution to your problem will come.
Either now or later
As the tide turns and the ocean waves flow on to shore.
I wish you joy in the process.