BUSY-BUSY-BUSY… For the sake of what? Why there’s more to life than increasing its speed
Yesterday morning I went out for an early morning run/walk yesterday with my friend Sharon (there’s nothing like knowing someone is waiting for you to get your tail out of bed when it’s dark, cold and ridiculously (5.30) early!) Sharon asked me how different Hanoi was when I visited it recently compared to when I was there back in 1996. “The millions of quiet bicycles have been replaced by millions of noisy beeping motorbikes,” I replied. Of course Hanoi is still a charming city to visit, with a fascinating history, amazing old Colonial architecture and buzzing with new growth. But it’s noisier and faster…. less peaceful, more hectic. A bit like most of our lives really. Back in 1996 I only had an internal work email address. I didn’t have an iPhone. In fact, I didn’t even have a mobile phone! (I also didn’t need to get up at 5.30 to squeeze exercise into my day!) Ah, so many new gadgets and tools to keep us so connected and speed up the pace at which we can communicate, motor through our days and coordinate our lives. It’s so easy to find ourselves simply going faster and faster, without taking out time to ask ourselves “For the sake of what?” An old proverb that goes “We cannot see our reflection in running water, only in still water.” It’s a valuable reminder that if we are only ever running around at full tilt, we can’t get fully present to true reality of our lives, and to the unique gifts and presence of those we share it with. Of course the busier you are, the less freedom you feel to press the pause button on your ever so important activity and just sit, be silent and connect to the moment. But the busier you feel you are, the more important it is for you to do so. Gandhi once said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Wise words. I have to confess, I excel at going fast. I’m not so good at slowing down (except from exhaustion at day’s end). In fact, I find sitting still and being silent much harder than running around like a blue-ass fly. But as I have to remind myself time and time again, How does all my busy ‘doing’ undermine who I am ‘being’? If in my haste to pack as much as I can into a day I am not present to my gorgeous kids, or not really listening to my husband as he shares his day, then it comes back to the question “Busy for the sake of what?” A couple weeks ago I made a fresh commitment to myself (and now to you) to MAKE TIME each day to become still and trade my busy ‘doing’ for quiet reflection. The universe was conspiring for me, as that very day I got an email from Oprah inviting me to do her and Deepak Chopra’s 21 meditation program. Having done it now for two weeks, I have found it’s helped me breath more deeply and connect more fully to people I am with. I know there will be days I don’t get around to meditate (still yet to do it today) but I also know that when I do, I will reap the rewards immensely. So what about you? How long since you sat down, got really still, connected to the breath flowing in and out of your body, and to the countless things in your life that you have to be grateful for – your body, your home, your freedom, your work, your family, your friends, the sunshine, the seasons… including those seasons of your life that have been the most difficult but have brought you to where you are today. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass once said, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” I have no doubt that if you made the commitment to get really quiet for just five minutes a day (apart from when you are sleeping) and just opened your heart and mind to whatever wisdom it was supposed to hear, you would, over time, connect more deeply to joy and gratitude and compassion and peace than you had before. And the irony is that by taking time out to be still and do ‘nothing,’ you would actually find you would get far more done. Which brings to mind the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “I could never have done what I did had I not spent three hours a day in prayer.” Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, I hope you will take from this a message from the universe to press pause on your own busy-ness. There is no better way than to see your world around you with fresh eyes than to close your eyes and go inside. After all, it’s on the inside where all profound change and transformation truly begins.