What elements do we really need in our life? What elements do we really love in our life? Are we saying yes to the things that matter? Or are we saying yes to just a bunch of things that keep us busy?
Part of slowing down is becoming mindful to what it is that you want. If we want things like spiritual growth, for example, are we saying yes to things that nurture and support that growth?
How bad do we want it? Can we say no to those other things in life when it comes time to make those choices? We can look at this with a lot of inquiry.
It becomes an idea of quantity over quality. If we just have a few things in life, then we can go very deep with these few things. We do not have a lot of time, and the time we do have can be spread very thin. Out of all the things you do how many of them really matter?
Being selective in choosing the things that we really want to experience in this lifetime is very important. It’s very easy to get sidetracked with life. Go do this, go do that. Sometimes I work with patients that are dying and when death comes up, then we really look at how we spend our time. The lesson there is to live as we are dying, as the say, because well, we are.
This might mean creating boundaries. To create boundaries you have to know what you really want, to be able to say yes or no accordingly. What are your boundaries?
If you are like me I have seen my attention span being pulled away by more and more things in more frequent intervals. When I was a kid we did not even have computers or cell phones. My attention was not pulled away as much. I think it’s obvious how life has sped up. Device addiction, it’s a very real thing. So how do we combat that? And why do we combat that?
For starters, if we sit down to meditate and our mind is used to being pulled away time and time again, then this is a tendency, a habit. We are cultivating a habit. Mindfulness is a habit too. 24-hours a day moment to moment each day, we have a choice. The choice is between distraction and mindful awareness. One trick is to use your distraction as a moment of mindfulness.
Trick: Use your distraction as your trigger for mindfulness.
If your phone or email, or whatever it is for you, is causing a distraction, that very thing can be your signal for a moment of mindfulness. Just like in meditation, we can tie that moment to our true nature.
Say your text message goes off as you are driving, you know you really shouldn’t check that. Just sit with that, what exactly is the craving? What exactly is the grasping? What do you feel you “need” by checking your phone? Is it connectedness? What is it exactly?
This turns the simply acknowledgement of a text message into a moment of mindfulness.
This is a conceptual. We all feel like we are filling up something, we are getting something out of this doing. If we look with openness we can find the “why” behind the doing. It takes courage and honesty, but we can find this why.
Food is another one. The mind is telling you that you need a snack. Maybe your body is not telling you this, but your mind is.
Sit with the thought, “I need something to eat”. Ask yourself, “What am I really getting out of that?” For example, I need a scoop of ice-cream. Is it the sweetness? The whole experience is from the lips to the back of the mouth, plus maybe a feeling of fullness. What about that is so gratifying exactly?
Take a look at it. Am I fulfilled with this?
In our regular daily habits, we can limit our input. What if you limited or reduced your input by 50% next week? When we get in the car, sometimes our habit is to just push the radio dial. Or even when we get home and we are around family, there is input of talking, there is so much input. TV input, music input, social media input.
With input we are looking outside ourselves, and for the most part in a very unconscious way. When the input ceases, then we get the opportunity to look inside. Take the opportunity!!
Slowing Down Happens Naturally
There is a “slowing down” of life when we look at this. Part of the slowing down is awakening to the speed at which we move, just bringing in the awareness of it. Slowing down does not mean physically slowing down. It means to slow down with the whole of our being. In fact we can be very calm inside while moving quickly.
During mindful eating exercises people say to me, “I cannot eat that slow!” But mindful eating does not have to be slow. It has to be mindful. It can be mindfulness of fast eating. It is easier to watch when we move slower, but it is not necessary.
We have to run alongside the movement of life with a sense of stillness. It is like jumping into the river and flowing with the current. When we are in stillness, and there is noise outside, there may be a feeling of dissonance if we let it. Sound is just bubbling up in that stillness, it can be beautiful, it can become the stillness.
Just being with what is, as it is. We are allowing the mind to settle in its natural state, but if the mind continues to be agitated by external phenomena, then it is difficult to allow it to settle. This allowing is training ground for a non-reactive mind. Once we are good at it, when things are chaotic, we can still rest in evenness.