How to be Boss of Everything

When our thoughts control us, when our problems control us, when we are driven by our feelings and emotions and ideas, they become the boss of us.

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A core aspect of mindfulness practice teaches us to include everything, to have a wide view, a wide mind, and to see, hear, and feel fully, opening the heart and mind, to experience the full experience, whatever it may be.

Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, once said:

The purpose of Zen practice is to have a well-oriented mind, the way to achieve this is to realize that you are the “boss of everything.”

Now being the boss of everything doesn’t mean you are in control in the usual sense of being a “boss“. Rather, it involves being completely comfortable with being fully engaged and connected to whatever you are doing.

It means simultaneously letting things be, just as they are, while also responding to whatever you find needs your attention.

Composure and effectiveness at work, and outside of work, comes from a keen sense of responsibility and full ownership of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

At the same time, your heart is open and responsive. You are not easily knocked off-center or fooled by your habits or narrow ideas.

You are more and more clear about your purpose, and at the same time, you are not grasping for results.

Being “the boss of everything” also means being radically responsible, and noticing when you’ve drifted from this state of mind.

When our thoughts control us, when our problems control us, when we are driven by our feelings and emotions and ideas, they become the boss of us. This can be as blatant as blaming others, or as subtle as second-guessing yourself, feeling sorry for yourself, or even blaming yourself. We all have these tendencies from time to time – they’re part of the human condition – but when you’re the boss, you recognize and name this, taking back responsibility, (and perhaps some appreciation) of yourself and the situation.

Meditation is a core practice of moving toward being the boss of everything. It’s about practicing and training your awareness to be attentive to your breath, your thoughts, and your feelings, again and again, while noticing when you may be distracted and not taking full responsibility for yourself. It means noticing when you aren’t noticing, as much as possible – with curiosity and kindness. Then, coming back, orienting your mind toward confidence, openness, and vulnerability – experiencing the full experience.

Ask yourself:

How might you practice with being “the boss of everything?”
What supports you in this practice and what makes it difficult?

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