How to conquer the jungle by taking the first step

Illustration by glossygerda (2019)

German Version

As  a decent citizen, I need to do all kinds of paperwork like declaring taxes, paying bills, filling in forms and so on. I feel like each time I’ve finished one nerve-wrecking project, the next one miraculously shows up on the horizon. And there is this pile of unopened letters on my desk staring at me each time I pass by.

photo by Gen Hagiwara
photo by glossygerda

These are the times when I may have my personal jungle trauma: My troubling thoughts would turn into branches and lianas closing in on me, pushing me down into shock-like paralysis.  Like a jungle tigress I would sneak around my pile of papers as if it were a toxic snake.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Over the years I’ve learned there is much truth in the saying that ‚every journey starts with the first step.‘ My step number one is opening the first envelope. That’s all it takes. The second step, which is opening the second envelope, is way easier. With each letter opened, my heart gets lighter and lighter.

Easily said, but not so easily done.

I know from experience that although this may sound easy, in fact it isn’t. But before you start any displacement activities like doing the dishes, you might turn to some mindful breathing meditation and you can try visualizing how good it feels to have made the first move. You will feel significantly relieved and find yourself in the middle of the jungle, knowing your way – you might even be able to see some exotic flowers or the sun shining through the leaves.


Enjoy free online breathing meditations at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center or at the Relaxation Room from Harvard University Health Services


Practicing my first-step strategy works in many fields of my life, whether it be in creative processes like painting or in my academic life as a journalism graduate at Harvard Extension School.

„Dream high and start with one humble step…

you’ll be amazed where it takes you.“

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