Has your mind ever been so entrenched in a stressful situation that you needed someone else to point out the solution to you? My mind has. The mind likes to trap, to focus, to stop on one single issue. Figuring this out often makes it worse: the mind that recognizes that it is trapped — just got trapped again.
The stopped mind is stationary, devoid of creativity. It doesn’t see solutions. To escape from the trap, it has to start flowing again — by removing the narrow focus. Telling someone not to focus on something — of course — is like telling her to not think of a pink elephant.
The flow can, however, be kept by trusting one’s skills — even in a stressful situation. A budoka needs to trust her self-defense skills. A consultant needs to trust her communication skills. A developer needs to trust her analytical skills. We craft those skills carefully. They won’t let us down under stress.
When push comes to shove, keep your mind flowing and open by trusting your skills. Don’t let your mind stop. That was one of the messages from the zen master Takuan Soho to the swords master Yagyu Munenori in his enlightening letters.