Are you a controlling person? I am a control-freak! It is an issue. I am aware of it though and of course, admitting there is a problem is the first step. Awareness. The sad reality is that the more I try to control something, the less likely it seems to go my way.

It is even worse if I am trying to control another human being; say, for example, my children. The more I try to control their behavior, the worse they behave. I get it. No one wants to be controlled. They can feel it. I never wanted to as a child. I wanted freedom and I was a rebel. If anyone told me to go left, you could get rich betting I would go right ‘just because’. Forget reverse psychology too. That was the oldest trick in the book my dad used on me before I could read; I’d just give him the look. Now it is my daughter giving me the look. Really, Mommy?!

‘Controlling me’ was just introduced to two concepts I LOVE: Wu Wei and Zanshin. Wu Wei, a Chinese term, is basically the Zen art of doing nothing. It is effortless action. An easy example: watch the grass grow. The grass itself does nothing. Yet it grows. Trying to control a person or a situation is like the opposite of Wu Wei and can lead to all sorts of conflict. Just let life grow (I tell myself). Let things happen. Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be). When I can learn to practice Wu Wei, I imagine it can open up a vacuum of peace in my life.

Zanshin is a state of relaxed awareness in Japanese martial arts. As it states on, “it is effortless vigilance.” It goes on to say, “Zanshin is choosing to live your life intentionally and acting with purpose rather than mindlessly falling victim to whatever comes your way.” I think of Zanshin as having to do with our sight and Wu Wei as our mobility and will to move forward.

I think Wu Wei is the method of operation to let things unfold naturally. Zanshin is the way to understand what is happening clearly in any situation or relationship. Zanshin gives you the information needed to discern how to proceed with peaceful intention. It would be hard to have Zanshin without Wu Wei because if you are trying to control everything, how could you possibly achieve true awareness?

These two concepts together, in my minds’ eye, are quite powerful; and both described as effortless. Effortless action and effortless vigilance. Controlling things takes massive effort and often leads to direct failure of the desired outcome. Letting go is key. In letting go we find both peace and freedom.

Craving Wu Wei and Zanshin,

Nikola Rosa