The quieter you become the more you are able to hear ~ Rumi
Last week I was on vacation. And it came at the perfect time. A few months ago, my Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) was approved for 10 days of time off. Unheard of. We decided then and there that we needed to get out of town and started to plan. We made a spreadsheet, as we do, of the different flights, prices, options, perks, made a final decision and pulled the trigger on purchasing a trip together.
When the date finally arrived, we could not have been more ready to leave town, and the wet, snowy, cold, behind and slow down for a little while. Decompress, read books, sleep in, explore. It was perfect timing and perfect company.
Not ones to sit still for long we found ourselves on a few hikes and many walks. At one point BOFA looked at me and said, “we are walking at a Vancouver pace, we need to slow down.” And slow down we did. From a walk to a stroll to a saunter. I took a break from the electronics and social media and consumed more books, words and tortillas. We slowed our pace down, slowed our lives down and inhaled deeply. It was over too quickly, as it always is.
The stillness and calm I felt on vacation was all but erased before I retrieved my suitcase from the luggage claim. I found myself feeling somewhat annoyed with those walking slowly up the stairs and I was unable to pass them, or those who failed to stand to the right on the escalator so I could, again, pass. It was another reminder of the pace of my world.
Our world moves quickly. I watch as we rush along the sidewalk on our way to our next destination, often with a phone in one hand and a coffee cup in the other, heads bent and lowered, lost in thought or in an email, text or keeping up with social media. The subway and bus lines move ahead with a jolt when the vehicle arrives to take us to work, or even faster when we are headed in the opposite direction, home.
Being able to keep up with the hustle and bustle is something I have always taken for granted. I never realized how fast we move and how we expect the same of others. I never realized my oblivion and admittedly, sometimes frustration at those who did not keep up and slowed that flow. Never considering that maybe they could not keep up, no matter how hard tried. Until I found myself with a bum wheel, a broken foot, a hitch in my giddy-up. Then it became painful obvious that I could no longer keep up, and I was proving to be an obstruction for those rushing along. My foot has healed, mostly. I can wear regular shoes, and walk quickly again, and that acknowledgement of the crazy pace of my world has again faded into my background.
As I try to remember my vacation-saunter, I am also trying to remember the stillness that I found internally. As an over-thinker, my mind is a constant whirl of random thoughts, fueled by emotions and creativity. We are all subjected to such an onslaught of information on a regular basis, between our email, text messages, news alerts, social media apps, music, TV, social events…the list is endless. We are constantly receiving input. For me, those inputs swirl around, lodge in my mind and become caught up in the constant processing of my brain. I have always had a tendency toward worry and fear, those tendencies increase with the inputs and my own ability to go “worst case scenario” on a regular basis, call it an occupational hazard. Simply removing and reducing the amount of input coming at me on a regular basis, mostly via my phone and electronic media, while on holiday, slowed my thinking down in a highly noticeable way. Although still receiving input from the books I was reading, the amount of input that required a fast response from me and my ever-moving mind were reduced or eliminated. The “brain break” assisted me in my attempt to reset, realign and relax.
Prior to vacation, I was developing a decent habit of meditating on a (mostly) daily basis. That newly forming habit has all but disappeared. However, as I write this, I am re-establishing that commitment to myself, to allow my brain a few minutes each day to unplug and not need to think, or respond, or react, but to go where ever it chooses. It’s a few minutes a day to unwind and realign, to stop with the input and let it all settle. To put my phone away, well, not completely away as I need the meditation application that I have on my home screen…hey, it’s a start!
Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance ~ Morgan Freeman