I believe the most frequently used word in my vocabulary these days could be “enough.”
I find myself saying the word out loud on a daily basis in response to my husband’s sharing of the latest political news. When I can’t take any more in the onslaught of divisive rhetoric and short-sighted actions, I tell him, “Enough. You’ve used up your quota of bad news for the day.”
I also use the word as a guideline in my work. As a solopreneur, there’s always more to do—if not for clients, then for the advancement of my business. I could work late into the night and still not complete everything on my task list—which is why “enough” is critical. “Enough for today,” I must tell myself. “Enough on this particular project. It will all still be here tomorrow.”
One of my primary income streams is copyediting and proofreading. There’s only so much time in each day when I can give fully focused attention to editing work. After a certain point, my brain says, “Enough!” At that point, I’m likely to miss things if I push through to meet a deadline. It’s time to turn my attention to other things—or, even better, to nothing at all—at least for a while.
Enough is an important word in the spiritual life as well. The Internet has flung wide the doors for spiritual teachers, allowing anyone to add their contributions to an overflowing wealth of wisdom available online. I myself am both a consumer and a teacher in this Internet realm, and I know how important it is to sometimes say, “Enough!”
We need to not just fill our heads and hearts with more and more and more. We also need time to become empty and still, so that the Divine can fill our hearts with the wisdom of silence or the pearl of great price that we might not have noticed when we were out there busily searching for it elsewhere.
The first time I led an online retreat, I wanted to make certain that there was enough content for the retreatants. In each session, I had them listen to an audio podcast meditation, reflect on a series of questions raised by that meditation, share their thoughts with me and other retreatants through online discussion, and engage in an additional activity that was designed to deepen their experience.
I discovered that these four elements were more than enough. Through feedback at the end of the retreat, I discovered that very few people engaged with the additional activities. I realized that I had actually provided too much content. It was more than enough. As a result, I stepped back from adding activities and now include an “additional offering” that is much simpler, such as an image or piece of music related to the meditation. In essence, I offer enough to whet the appetite, but no more.
What is enough in your life? In what contexts do you need to say, “Enough”?
Shirin McArthur is an editor and writer coach who lives in southern Arizona, USA. She received her Certificate in Spiritual Guidance from the Shalem Institute and has served as a spiritual guide for more than 20 years. She leads in-person and online spiritual retreats and offers contemplative spiritual photography through her website and Instagram.