I’ve been waiting for my life to slow down. In fact, it seems that as of late, my life’s one constant has been ‘full steam ahead’. I’ve had friends and colleagues marvel at how I do it all- yet, somehow there always seems to be more to do.
This got me thinking of a time when I was finishing a degree with three young children. I went to the local Women’s Group AGM and was asked to chair the new committee.
In exasperation, I said to the old committee- ‘Do you know how busy I am?’
Only to hear- ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’.
Apparently, this is a quote from Lucille Ball of ‘I Love Lucy’ fame. She also said ‘The more things you do, the more you can do’.
My mother used to wear this as a badge of honour. (And I’m sure there are elements of this ethos not lost on her daughter) However, what does this say to me, a mindfulness teacher?
SLOW DOWN. I’ve been caught in a perpetual loop of doing mode. And for the sake of my health and happiness, I need to balance this doing mode with simply being. Kabat Zinn speaks of this being mode when he states that “a lightness of being and playfulness [are] key elements to the practice of mindfulness, because they are key elements of well-being.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am exceptionally good at slowing down, ‘playing’ and enjoying the quiet moments of simple, single task activity. There is nothing more delicious than an hour with a hot cup of tea in front of the fire; or an afternoon on my dock at my cabin with a good book, a leisurely swim and the sound of the water quietly lapping at the wood of the platform; or an afternoon of baking my favourite cakes for my favourite people.
And I nearly forgot this. In my ‘busyness’, I nearly forgot the fact that I NEED these activities to fill my cup. It wasn’t until my best friend pointed out to me that she was happy to see me relaxing in front of the fire this weekend, as the one thing she does know about me is my need to ground myself in my home with quietness.
Recently, the hustle and at times dizzying travel has/had taken over. However, I feel a shift.
This week, the news has been filled with anticipation of ‘The Beast from The East’. For those of you in non- European parts of the world, don’t get too excited! ‘The Beast from The East’ is not Godzilla. No, it’s a massive snow storm from Siberia that is blowing its way across the continent and into the UK/ Ireland- and it’s forcing me to SLOW DOWN. Or, for the sake of this blog post, SNOW DOWN.
For instance, I was meant to fly in and out of Manchester yesterday for a day of working in MAHQ. Instead, we cancelled due to the weather.
The kids were meant to go to school today. Instead, it was cancelled due to the weather.
We are all grounded in our house with the quietness of snow. What a perfect opportunity to slow down and enter into that mode of being.
So- what is this mode of being?
Well, it’s a break away from the doing mode of autopilot- from cooking the dinner to get through it so that we can all eat and get on with our evening activities. Instead, it is taking the time to really be with the process of cooking- to feel the textures of the food, to smell and taste the flavours, to experience the transformation of ingredients into a meal. To create. And maybe even to create with joy and appreciation and a resting in the knowledge that this food will nourish our bodies.
It’s a break away from the doing mode of striving- from trying to get every job ticked off the list as fast as possible so that the next moment will be better. Instead, it is taking time to bring a beginner’s mind to each task and approaching them without the finish in view. It’s writing this blog post while looking up every so often to enjoy the vision of falling snow out the window, the smell of coffee wafting in from the kitchen. It’s not looking at the list for the day, but just being with this job, in this moment. It’s knowing that this moment has everything I need- it doesn’t need to be better.
It’s slowing down and taking it all in for what it is. It does not mean getting nothing done- but it might mean relating to my moment to moment experience with an open curiosity.
So, on this Snow Day, my intention is to slow down and simply be with my day, one moment at a time- living deeply and savouring each unfolding. And to start with, I will enjoy taking a lunch break with my Nelly in the woods.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach- Thoreau
*And as I am just back, what did the woods have to teach? There is stillness, and wonder all around me- I just have to step into it*
This week’s challenge- can we all slow down and move towards entering that mode of being as we go about our lives. Snow or no snow. Can we notice when autopilot has taken over, when we are striving, when we are shutting things down out of our preferences? Can we just be with? Can we move away from all of the doing?
Maybe you have been wanting to sign up for our Level 1: Being Present course but there is not a course running near you? Or, maybe you would like to start the Mindfulness or Teacher Training pathway from the comfort of your own home?
I am teaching on an online version of our Level 1: Being Present course (the start of our Mindfulness or Teacher Training pathway) next Thursday, March 7th at 7pm. If you would like to join me and the other participants as we explore mindfulness from the quiet of home.