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GPS with No Direction

"Sometimes not even the GPS can really tell you where you are."
~Karen Nelson

This dear listener with a fine sense of humor submitted the photo above, along with the subsequent caption in response to our show "What We Nurture" with Sylvia Boorstein. During her conversation with Krista, the Jewish-Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist shares this analogy about “recalculating” one’s life like a GPS unit:

Dr. Boorstein: I've never said it in a public audience, but I just thought about it recently. I decided that — I'll find out soon if this is a good analogy — but I was thinking about the GPS in my car. It never gets annoyed at me. If I make a mistake, it says, "Recalculating." And then it tells me to make the soonest left turn and go back. I thought to myself, you know, I should write a book and call it "Recalculating" because I think that that's what we're doing all the time.

If something happens, it challenges us and the challenge is, OK, so do you want to get mad now? You could get mad, you could go home, you could make some phone calls, you could tell a few people you can't believe what this person said or that person said. Indignation is tremendously seductive, you know, and to share with other people on the telephone and all that. So to not do it and to say, wait a minute, apropos of you said before, wise effort to say to yourself, wait a minute, this is not the right road. Literally, this is not the right road. There’s a fork in the road here. I could become indignant, I could flame up this flame of negativity or I could say, "Recalculating." I'll just go back here.

Ms. Tippett: So this is an example of technology instilling us with spiritual discipline — we find so much to criticize.

Dr. Boorstein: And no matter how many times I don't make that turn, it will continue to say, "Recalculating." The tone of voice will stay the same.

Ms. Tippett: That's good. I think it's a good analogy.

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6 Comments

You could also make further analogies relating to GPS about knowing the destination you want to go.  If we don't know where we're going, we won't know how to get there.

I consider her a master teacher.

"Recalculating" is a good modern way to express what we usually call equanimity.  Just go on and face the world and the next moment without histrionics or personal anger or insult.
I learned this from Judaism.  I wonder if Dr. Boorstein learned this from her Buddhist practice, her Jewish practice, or both.  I know that she primarily teaches mindfulness meditation from Buddhist sources, not Jewish ones.

What a wonderful observation.  I am reminded how relaxing it is to trust the voice - especially in complicated city environments!  It symbolises cutting out so much baggage and complication and I dont even need to know where I am going when I leave - a little scary at first but makes for a more relaxed journey.  Having spent many years with maps falling off the seat beside me, having to change glasses to read them, spend time planning the journey, my TomTom changes all that too.  The metaphor does it all in a single word - thank you.

Good teachers (I was a special education teacher of emotionally disturbed middle schoolers) do this all the time in order to build and maintain positive relationships with students. Be available positively, However, if a student is upset, remain present, don't abandon them, but also don't engage negatively with them. "Re-calculate" by using neutral verbal and body language. Be ready to help them "re-calculate" when they are ready.

My sisters and I discovered and made light of this on a recent trip, even imitating the calm "recalculating" when necessary.
With EVERY On Being, you are ALWAYS on target . . . and always challenging me to recalculate. Keep up the amazing work!!!

This is a great analogy. I surely will use this as a trigger phrase to get myself back on track.