Things take time. We often forget that in this world we live in. We have 24-hour internet, television, shopping, instant communication in various forms, perpetual foods, instant dating, next day delivery, live streams and on and on and on. Constantly living like this, at such a pace brings us out of sync, it disconnects us from the natural and usual cycles of life, of the seasons and of our humanity.
I remember growing up the only shops to be open on Sundays were the newsagents, until about 1pm so you could get Sunday papers. The rest of the world was like a ghost town. Sundays were for going to Sunday School, eating Sunday Dinner, visiting relatives and quiet reflective times. Everyone slowed down and spent time with the family even if you were all in the room not necessarily communicating, but just being in each other’s presence. I reminisce with nostalgia and a soft fondness, but I know that at the time, I found many Sundays torturous because there was nothing to watch on the television (nothing that I wanted to watch anyway) and most of the time the television was never turned on in our house on a Sunday (apart from the news – there was ALWAYS the news in our house), there was no time to meet with my friends and play out because no-one was allowed out as they were all with their families too. My reflections on those times however offer me a different perspective for the truth of what actually happened versus my juvenile protestations based on my annoyance at not being able to do what I pleased. After Sunday School and dinner, if we were not visiting or receiving guests my parents would read and I would spend time drawing or reading, making up games, dancing and writing stories, listening to music, practising music lost in my imagination, evolving my ability to self sooth. Hours upon hours flexing and strengthening my personal growth and allowing the process of that to unfold without an agenda, with no destination, just because. We would often walk and go to the park when the weather was good. Sometimes we would go to the seaside too, driving or walking to be in the elements, connecting to the rhythms that nature offered. When it was colder, I would bake with my mother, or make things with my dad (– little made up gadgets to store things in) or we would garden or knit things (that always weren’t actually anything because they wouldn’t manage to stay together 😊). I spent a lot to time being slower and more still than I normally was, that’s what Sundays were about.
It was such a novel idea when the shops started to open around Christmas time so that we all had extra ‘time’ to fit in our Christmas shopping. It began with a couple of weeks before Christmas, then the month of December, then a few more weeks before Christmas and then Sunday shopping was an all year-round phenomena and probably the busiest shopping day of the week. My timeline and interspersion of the introduction of mobile phones, the internet, social media, the extension of the working day, 24/7 communication and email is quite hazy as they were gradual, then suddenly integrated parts of our day to day life. I remember when I did my A-Levels, personal computers were just becoming an affordable commodity and the printers used to print our line by line much like an electronic typewriter (really showing my age here!), by the time I was getting towards the end of my undergraduate study, CD-ROMs were becoming available with case law and precedent which was a little out of date, but it was a far cry from trawling the library shelves for missing books, or books with pages ripped out of them. Life was markedly gaining momentum. Outwardly the signs if not understood by all were and continue to be undeniable, and the inward impact of this continues to unfold.
One of the offshoots I have observed in this increase in consumerism driven “living” is the speed at which we have come to expect things to happen in our lives. Being able to receive a parcel of goods we are too busy to go out to the shops to purchase as we don’t have the physical time to dedicate to the task; but we have been conditioned to know and expect that such an item if ordered within the correct time frame can be jetted over to us by the close of play the following day. Television has an array of instantaneous rags to riches modern fairy tales unwrapping before our eyes in the form of music, love, dance, talent and cooking programmes all focused on plucking ordinary folks from obscurity into a world of glitz, glamour and high rolling finance and we bear witness to how easy it is to move through and expand our lives in a matter of weeks. Every single aspect of convenience that life shows us in these ingenious improvements is to be applauded as they stem from the imaginative creativity of someone’s mind and regardless of the perceived motivations behind the vision they are a beautiful expression of human inventiveness. What makes them concerning is the lack of balance they depict. We are lead to believe that living fast, being constantly on the go, being able to create returns instantaneously is normal, its usual, its what and how we need to be living. But is this true?
I used to be one of the most impatient people in the world. I needed everything to be done yesterday, as soon as it came into my frame of reference, why wasn’t it happening already? Do more and do it more quickly, achieve, achieve, achieve, now, now, now!!! I’m not entirely sure what I was driven by (but actually I do – it’s a whole other story), but there was an unrelenting sense of urgency that made everything I approached catastrophically critical. I would rush into everything, always without fail. How could I accelerate it? Over a period of time, my preoccupation of wanting things to happen quickly metamorphised into an insistent need (or so I thought) which manifested in unchecked and totally unconscious obsession with the future and what was going to happen and when? Would I be able to cope with it? What if this or that or the other happened? What if? What if? What if? What if? Anxiety and I became firm and favourite buddies for quite a long while before I knew we were even associated, I thought that was just how I rolled. Living in this way completed disconnected me from natural processes, I had totally lost a sense of expanding; I was unaware that despite my unequivocal desire to will and cajole outcomes, my desire to control every aspect of my existence was just not possible. It wasn’t possible because it wasn’t real, it wasn’t true and it wasn’t natural. In the natural world a seed has to progress through stages in order to develop into a plant. It is not possible to plant that seed and with a sheer bloody minded will determine its progress from seed to fully fledged plant in a week. It isn’t possible because every stage that seed passes through on its passage to fully fledged plant is an opportunity for that seed to gain strength and fortitude in that stage of development in order to support and inform its ability to survive and cope at the next stage. When we look at beautiful floppy, sleepy babies, they are born to us perfectly formed with all the components they need to make the perfect version of the human they are intended to be, but they are not born ready to walk off and take themselves to school (although my ‘little’ ones pretty much could have done so 😉). They are born limp, soft and need of nurture, love and support. They move from one stage to another as they are able to develop the strength and integrity to make the progression possible. Beginning with being able to foster the strength in their necks to hold the weight of their own heads, this happens through a process; a process of growth, maturity, learning and patience. That tiny babes in arms is not able to jump from coming fresh out of its wrappers to crawling because that is not the order of things, it needs to earn its stripes through the trial and error that comes with endurance, through following the designated stages. It is the natural lore and it is that way because it is supposed to be, and that is what works.
As human beings we have so called superior intelligence to the rest of the natural world because we have opposing thumbs and because we can reason, the only issue with reasoning is much of the time, it isn’t in fact based on reason but rather on thinking and overthinking which in many instances overrides the benefits of the order of things and loses the wisdoms of what is. Over emphasis of our thinking minds as the authority in our lives circumvents the magic that is for example the magic and natural wisdom of our bodies. Our bodies, created perfect in mechanism, perfect in function, perfect in architecture designed to show us the way in how to move and live and operate and yet we chose with our superior thinking minds to ignore the vital messages it brings for us. Our disembodiment, living more and more exclusively in our thinking minds delegates the little nudges, signs and whisperings our beautiful bodies try to impart our way, usually until it is too late. We push through to reach that deadline after having worked another 12-hour day, we take those calls, we go those meetings, social engagements running around and around getting to bed later and later and waking earlier and earlier in total contrast to our healthful capacity and we keep going. The signs may present themselves as feeling extra fatigued (– just chug more caffeine to get us moving in the morning and an extra coffee here or there won’t hurt, it will just keep me focused and able to perform), or we may have a niggle in our shoulder that just won’t seem to go away (take some analgesic to take care of it, and repeat so I can keep going until it’s just part of what I do) or is it an issue with keeping regular, persistent diarrhoea or I just can’t go, but I don’t have time to understand why, I just need to get through this week so I will medicate accordingly because I don’t have time to be ill, I have things to do. And so we go on until our bodies can’t take any more and we get that cold or flu, the frozen shoulder or whatever it is that is the most exaggerated expression of what our bodies were trying to tell us, it’s time to slow down, take notice and respect the physical process that we need you to address.
Our delicious thinking minds also have some incredible tricks to keep us locked in the movement and functions of both our conscious and sub conscious minds intertwining in enchanting dances entirely preoccupy us when we are unaware of their chicanery. Incessant unrelenting fixation on events, people, places completely out of our scope of influence plague us with desperation to change and contort them to our thinking will. We imagine all manner of wildly fictious outcomes for the simplest scenarios based on the most miniscule of thoughts because that is the power of our unchecked mind, a mind that is drugged by the ghosts of the past which have created a checklist of horrific fear-based outcomes awaiting us in the future or a paradigm of old scenarios to incarcerate us to remain frozen and contained by a past we have no influence on or in and can do nothing to change, and yet the strength our minds have to dictate the agenda supersedes logic or reality. Sprinkle in a dash of expectation and attachment to specific outcomes to this concoction and there you have the most perfect catalyst to drive yourself to distraction with your thoughts alone, without intending to, and most likely with no idea that this is happening. Persuaded by a time pressured expectation to reach any outcome by an entirely arbitrary criteria and there you have the need to completely disregard the reality and laws of nature, process and evolving.
When I was driven to constantly do things yesterday, I missed a lot of my own life, there are great chunks of my expererince that I don’t fully or adequately recall because I was so preoccupied in doing, moving forward, rushing and making things happen (I take comfort in the knowledge that they are all stored in there somewhere). Survival in this self-imposed confinement meant that I couldn’t notice the subtilties of the experience I was having because my mind and body may have been there in physical illusion, but there were in fact racing ahead in the future obsessively trying to control and do, and be and make happen, but missing all along the things that were happening in the here and now. My impatience may have in many instances distorted the outcomes I was trying to achieve because I may have missed learning and growth opportunities, I may have missed the stages of progression that I was designed to linger in and absorb because I was too busy rushing to where I thought I needed to be without realising that were I was was in fact exactly where it was at. I created frustrations, dissatisfactions and disconnections with and from myself because I forgot how important it was to be with where I was and be ok with it. The lessons that my slow Sundays showed so many years later is that it is perfect to be where you are even if you don’t always get why you are there and when you can probably think of a million other places you’d rather be, and doing a billion other things, more often than not, where you are is exactly what is required for you at this moment in time.
Our beautiful, crazy, mixed up, evolving world is moving at such a rapid pace causing us to be enticed into the belief that if we don’t keep up with it, or move faster we will somehow miss out on the elusive holy grail. When we buy into this presentation of life we are on some level making tacit agreement to override many of the unavoidable truths of how life does in fact work. When we become ill with a cold or virus we can of course take medication and forge on, push through and keep going despite our body demanding that we switch up the pace and take time to allow healing to take place. We tell ourselves we simply don’t have the time to take time out to allow this to happen. If we believe this to be true we end up spending a longer time having to recover than if we give our selves the permission and time for our body to process in the way it needs to. The same is true of our feelings, the ones observed as being more negative because they require more of our attention by distracting us as they feel uncomfortable. Feelings such as grief, anger, frustration or shame. With so much emphasis on being ‘positive’ all around us allowing our confronting emotions to run their course by just sitting with them and allowing them to inform us as to what needs addressing or changing to support our progress is not something we know how to or even want to do, because it just doesn’t feel good. But what happens when we deny our emotional process is we look for tactics to avoid and run away from these difficult feelings in a myriad of ways in the illusion that by so doing we can avoid them and all that happens is we seek to reinforce them for whatever actions we develop in the name of avoidance need to be enhanced bit by bit to remain effective at keeping the emotions at bay. The more we do this, the more we are in fact driven by the very emotion we try to avoid. As simple as the idea of succumbing to the process is on whatever level is arises the process itself may not be easy but it is always the answer for ensuring we move through and guarantee our growth and ultimate development.
The importance of having a daily practice that fixes our experience in the here and now and allows us to reconnect to self is the chance we have to stay with our process and work through our challenges and difficulties in order to evolve. I will always advocate a breath practise as breathing is the foundation for all other activity and work that we carry out as breath is life and my breath has given me back my life. You may like to meditate, walk in nature, swim, go to the gym, dance, tai-chi, qi-gong or lift heavy things, self-reiki/reflexology, play an instrument, whatever your poison is, the importance of it is your consistent commitment to yourself through your practise, for it is through and with this that you can being more meaning, understanding and enjoyment into your life. For living in a connected way, associated with every moment and making informed choices instead of being dictated to by the phantoms of past experience brings with it immense empowerment.