Westerners live in such a rushed, stressed out society that many of us have a hard time stopping the momentum and learning to slow down.
I have been working with a teaching of Swami Veda’s for when I am ‘running late’. I try not to be late – I think it’s disrespectful of other people to keep them waiting. Sometimes I miscalculate or try to pack too many things into the time available. I know I’m going to be late. Swamiji suggests when this happens we could still make a choice on how we will arrive – late and stressed or late and relaxed? First step – focus on the breath and do a short relaxation from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Release tension in the body. Breathe it out, let it go. Keep this awareness – let the body and breath be soft and calm. As you are breathing and relaxing, observe the thoughts coming into the mind. Are you worried about the consequences of being late? Is it something that can be covered with a sincere apology or is it more serious? What are your habits about being places on time? Are you habitually late or is this an occasional occurrence. Why are you late? Was it something you could have prevented? Scan the body – what sensations arise in the body when you know you’re going to be late? Is your gut in a knot? Shoulders up around your ears? Relax and breathe – notice and observe. If there is something you could do about this in the future, make a decision about that. Take responsibility for your time, your body and your frame of mind. Slowly, ingrained habits can be transformed if we choose.
Quote from Eknath Easwran: “Today’s mania for speed strikes right at the root of our capacity for an even mind. How often we find ourselves locked into behavior and situations that force us to hurry, hurry, hurry! By now, most of us are aware that compulsive speed — “hurry sickness” — can be a direct threat to our physical health. But hurry has another alarming repercussion: it cripples patience.
When we lack patience, even a few moments’ delay, a trivial disappointment, an unexpected obstacle, makes us explode in anger. We are not hostile people; we are just in such a hurry that keeping the mind calm is impossible. Without peace of mind, how can we enjoy anything, from a movie to good health? When we go slower, we are more patient, and when we are more patient, we are capable of enjoying life more. All these benefits can come from just learning to slow down.”
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