Recently the guys upstairs have given me a simple new tool that seems to be working well, so I thought I’d share it for the sake of those who may find it helpful.
It started with them telling me, “slow down.” And I found myself being prompted to say the same thing to my friends. Slow down.
Now, I am naturally fast. I think fast, move fast, write fast, and I am more comfortable doing several things at once (in a sort of blurred time-sharing kind of way) than I am in doing one thing slowly and methodically. So at first I thought they were merely saying that I needed to slow down to match the speed others live at. But it turns out, that’s not it. Slowing down, they told me, has an advantage we don’t commonly think about.
We in the body are of course confined to one point in space and one point in time. We call them the here and the now. Even recognizing that the place is always “here” and the time is always “now” is a step forward from our usual distracted state of existence, but it’s only the beginning. The point made by the guys is that as we usually live, our bodies are in that one moment of here/now, but our minds and spirits are frequently scattered all over the place, remembering this, previewing that, fantasizing this, fearing that, playing this old memory, hearing that old tune….
Slowing down is the first step toward recombining all those parts of ourselves, bringing us totally into the here/now in order to concentrate our power, to brighten our focus and enrich our emotional life.
The point, thus, isn’t really to move slower, but to re-concentrate ourselves. After we’ve done that, we can proceed at whatever speed feels appropriate and comfortable.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, a couple of words about what I am not talking about. This is not about achieving an empty mind. An empty mind may be a beginning, for some, but is not what we are looking for. That is, we’re not looking for a mind that is not processing input. Instead, we want a mind that is processing input – it is seeing and hearing and smelling and feeling whatever is around you – but is not overlaying story around those inputs. For the moment, you aren’t thinking, or fantasizing, or remembering, or doing anything at all but just being. It’s almost too simple to get across, and it’s almost too easy to see that you’ve done something in doing it.
1. Sit down and take a couple of long breaths, merely to calm your body. Then, wherever you are, sit quietly, watching and feeling. Observe and absorb the world around you – whatever you’re looking at, hearing, smelling, touching — and don’t do anything. Don’t say anything, don’t think anything. Just be there.
Experience life, for the moment, only in the present tense, only in the present surroundings. No memories or anticipations. No analogies. No story construction. No thoughts (profound or otherwise) suggested by ten seconds’ worth of silence. Just — slow down and actually experience whatever is around you. Don’t think about it, and don’t pursue thoughts that arise. If you’re looking at the wall, just look at the wall and see it.
You will probably feel the qualities of things deepen. I can’t explain what those words mean, and even if I could, explanations would only start your active-squirrel mind going. Just be, and be open to whatever happens.
2. After a while, whenever feels appropriate, quietly and casually express your intent that your life go well, that your body be well, that any physical adjustments needed be made automatically. In other words, intend that your body and life recalibrate to revert to their optimum conditions, correcting any imbalances that may have come in from whatever cause.
Don’t think this requires any effort. Just imagine that you are well and that your life is well. Maybe you’ll move through it in less than a minute. However long it takes, do it and then go on with your life. You can recalibrate 50 times a day if you want to. Once you find that still spot, you can drop back into it whenever you wake up enough to remember that it exists and you have experienced it.
You may find it worthwhile to do this with someone else. Just, don’t try to do it with someone who is not receptive to it. Nothing positive ever came from someone’s pooh-poohing another’s efforts, yet a certain type of person gets pleasure out of doing so. That isn’t the kind of energy you want to surround this exercise.
You might think that recalibration is the opposite of stress. That’s not quite right. The process of recalibrating is the opposite of the process of experiencing stress. But the state of recalibration is the opposite not of stress but of the state of imbalance that causes, and is caused by, stress.
Actively recalibrate, and then go no with your life. And if you find that the exercise helps, do by all means pass it on to your friends. (And let me know, too. It’s always nice to hear success stories.)