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The illusion of Monotony

One of the questions that come up regularly during workshops is,

“How can we keep up our energy and excitement high, doing the same routine job every day?”

Often, the very same people, especially those who have been through a number of workshops with us, ask,

“How can you keep up your energy and freshness, doing the same workshop, year after year, month after month, day after day?”

My answer is simply, and truthfully, that I am not doing the same workshop day after day. Each workshop, though similar in structure and content, is a new experience. In fact, when I find participants coming in who have been through earlier workshops, I tell them,

“Let me assure you that you are going to go through exactly the same workshop, word for word. Let me also assure you that you will find it as interesting, insightful, and enjoyable as the first time.”

At the end of the workshop, these participants invariably agree that this assurance has been validated.

As long as I am experiencing each moment of each workshop without the baggage of the past and the anxiety of expectations, each and every moment of each and every workshop is different. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, there is an old Zen saying,

“You can never step in the same river twice.”

The river is flowing all the time and each time you step in, you are stepping into a different body of water. If we are sensitive and alive to the newness of the river, each step is a fresh experience. So also, we ourselves and the world around us are in a constant state of flow. Even as I write this, old cells are falling away from my body, new cells are forming, new neuro-chemical connections are taking place in my mind, new thoughts forming, new ideas germinating. As long as I allow myself to be in a state of adaptation and response, I experience myself and the world outside as a PROCESS and not as a PRODUCT. As a ‘product’ I am the same today as I was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow as I am today. As a ‘process’ I have the freedom to be different today from what I was yesterday. I have the freedom to be different at this moment from what I was a moment ago.

Getting into this ‘process’ state requires that we function with our full availability and attention in the present moment. Theatre, as mentioned in my previous article, “Facilitating in the Here & Now”, is a very direct way of experiencing our ability to function with great competence, energy, and enjoyment in whatever we do, moment to moment.

If going through the same activity continuously were to be monotonous, people like Sachhin would not be enjoying their cricket decade after decade. Musicians, painters, dancers, all are engaged in the same activity, but no song is monotonous to the singer as long as she puts her heart and soul into each rendition.

Monotony has nothing to do with what is outside of us. Rather monotony stems from our internal reaction to what is outside. If no two leaves on millions of trees can be exactly the same, if no two fingerprints across millions of people can be exactly the same, if no two snowflakes can be exactly the same, how can two moments, much less, two hours, and still less, two days be exactly the same? What we need is the ability, already inherently available with us, to see that difference and respond to each different moment with attention and spontaneity.

Workshop after workshop, it has been continously reinforced that if we create the 3 pillars of a Natural Team, the Team as well as each individual in the team experience themselves, as well as everything around, as ‘processes’, and demonstrate the ability to respond accordingly. This happens instantly and instinctively.


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