Caught up in the speed of life?
It had been a busy day and largely self-imposed with activities I felt were worthwhile and engaging. The yoga class started in twenty minutes as the whir of the computer silenced, like an exhalation, indicating that the office/computer portion of the day had been completed. Feeling like a champion of progress, I transitioned into yoga-mind readying myself for the mindful stretching and intentional breathing that are the studio hallmarks.
It’s in transition that most of my original thinking is spawned, as for me distinctions are made in seeing the same things in novel juxtapositions. At five minutes until mat time I got caught in traffic and felt the first pangs of frustration capture my diaphragm and steal away my spacious awareness. “Late to yoga class” is an interesting paradoxical relationship that happens more than I would like in my life.
Fortunately I’d had a fresh lesson in marketing and had been studying the best marketers of all, the pharmaceutical reps, when the words “Shivasana” crossed my mind in the form of a very convenient blue-green pill that when taken can induce the relaxed state that is worked for in a yoga class. The cost: about the price of a yoga class, the pay-off: save time, stay home and sweat-free, be blissed out. The notion of shivasana: “the blue-green pill of repose” cracked me up and broke the frustrated moment into an easy transition into the yoga class. To slow down the speed of my life I had to step out of the current events in my headlines and return to that eternal sense of breathing in time with movement.
Culturally we’ve become a very busy lot as it seems all of this convenience has made it difficult to slow down the overachieving sense of progress in our days. There are more time-saving devices at our fingertips but we are busier than ever. The time-saving promises of technology give us smaller, faster, and more convenient ways of relating to our world without broadening our ability to interact with other people in novel ways. The breakneck speeds at which these promises are delivered can make one feel as if they are falling behind a train that values the destination but not the passengers.
I refer to the concept of the speed-of-life quite often when I speak to my patients about the quality of their lives. The current expectation is that being busy is synonymous with getting ahead and that busy people are important people. It’s a tough current to swim against because there is so much reward we gain from getting busy. Being busy is ultimately a feeling of striving for something that we don’t have and chasing the elusive carrot. To reclaim the spacious quality in our lives it’s important to put the right perspective on being busy. One of my meditation teachers advocates the usage of what he calls “alarm clocks for awareness” in our daily lives that serve as reminders to return to a certain state of awareness conducive to living in the moment. Like awakening from a night’s sleep, awakening to the moment can provide a fresh perspective on an otherwise challenging or distracted way of being in our lives. For some this is a return to the breath, others a positive thought like gratitude, or for others a re-ignition into their passion. It’s so easy to become immersed in our circumstance and forget what it is that keeps us connected when we are high-centered in a pile of logistics, expectations, and demands. Another wise teacher simply says, “Get un-caught up”!
I have found the following ideas to be quite useful in my own life in resetting the ground of my experience:
• Use your living space to plant seeds of awareness: Place a chime on the inside of your front door and make a conscious shift into your home space whenever arriving or departing. I believe that home should be one of the strongholds for being at peace with yourself.
• Bring your walls alive with supportive messages or inspiring pictures. Make your walls reflect what it is you cherish and value in your life. I hang words from the ceiling in places where subtle breezes move through my house. Words like pray, inspire, release, courage, compassion, and love all seem to bring me into a state of grace.
• Use post-it reminders with key words (like breathe, smile, lighten-up, You are enough!) to remind you of important qualities or actions in your life. Place these in areas that you visit regularly like the bathroom mirror, the rear-view mirror or steering wheel in your car, your computer monitor, the refrigerator door, or the toilet seat. The more resources we have at decisive moments the better the quality of our decisions.
• Change your posture to change your mind. When we assume a posture of confidence our self-esteem is kindled and when we assume a posture of relaxing our agenda often times will soften. Create anchor points that remind you of insights that seem important. I use the space between my thumb and index finger as an anchor point where I draw a small circle to help me remember something I’m working on internally or need to do externally. When people ask about it I get to share the meaning with someone else while complimenting their ability to be curious about distinctions. Try it out for yourself.
Awareness is one of the mediums available to counteract our moving blindly through our lives. After all, we are human beings, not human doings. With awareness and conscious action we are all capable of growing in positive directions that incorporate a sense of connection to our experience and a commitment to our well-being.