"When everything hurries everywhere, nothing goes anywhere."
Each day we get closer to how life used to be before the pandemic hit. In the last year or so, we have all had the chance to slow down. Going a little slower in general has many benefits. I have talked before about how speed and needless rushing around can become internalized in the body. ( blog entitled “Speed”) I know I feel a little hesitant to go full-speed back to life as it was.
This feeling has reminded me of some wisdom I received years ago when training to be a Relax and Renew certified teacher with Judith Lasater. I have mentioned her many times in my blogs, as I consider her to be a beloved teacher and mentor. Judith says that many people become stressed because of their attitude about time. Each of us is given the same amount of time each and every day. The variable is how we fill it.
Sometimes we confuse keeping ourselves busy with giving our life meaning. When we artificially create urgency in our lives, we inhibit our ability to be compassionate. Impatient, angry people add to their own suffering. For every thought that crosses the mind, there is a physiological change. This becomes a compounding effect when repeated on a daily basis. To counter this, we should learn to move quickly when it’s necessary, but without the weight of anxiety and blame piled on top.
Rather than telling yourself “there is not enough time to get there by 6:00," instead say “apparently I didn’t leave enough time to arrive by 6:00.” Tell yourself you will not create suffering for you or anyone else because you are moving so quickly. Time is big, so allow it to be spacious in your life. As Judith says, “ Don’t try to make the present moment peaceful, make peace with the present moment.”
Many thanks to Jennifer Botka who takes beautiful notes during yoga workshops. And to Judith Lasater for her wisdom.
"Do you have the patience to wait
until your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
until the right action arises by itself?" Lao Tzu
I like the concept in meditation that when we first sit to meditate our minds are like a jar, filled with water and mud, that has been shaken. As we settle in and become quiet, the sediment starts to sink to the bottom of the jar and the water becomes clear. The constant stream of thoughts that normally bombard us begin to slow their assault, and there begins to be a bit of space between those thoughts. Yoking the mind to focus on breath or mantra allows even more sediment to settle.
Right now it feels as if the cosmic jar has been shaken, and there is significant mud to wade through. Each day it feels like there is another tragedy or event to try to take in and understand. Lao Tau's suggests that in times like these, we do our best to remain patient. Take in the events and feel all that is going on around us, but then wait before reacting. Step away from all media. Go outside, unplug and be in nature. Sit and just be, and wait for your own mud to settle. Start with trying this for just five minutes. Let your mind's eye watch the movement of your breath and be still. See if the thoughts begin to slow down.
I believe the world would be a kinder, more thoughtful place if everyone would spend a few moments a day in meditation. The mud is always going to be there. It's up to us how we choose to react to it.
In the words of one of my favorite teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater:
"May you be like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters."