Anti-Distraction : A 5-Minute Practise of Presence

 

Rosanne Croucher - Spirited (Oil on Canvas)
Spirited (2016), Oil on Canvas | © Rosanne Croucher Art

Have you found yourself at the end of a long day, exhausted but not really sure where the day has disappeared to?

When we are moving rapidly from task to task, there is a tendency to get lost; in seeking the next moment or dwelling on a previous moment, we miss the present moment.

The result is a day lived in transience, never really being here – or anywhere. It is a series of distracted moments in an uninhabited body.

We all know that changing the way we think can affect how we behave. This relationship flows both ways; when we change our posture, the way we breathe, the way we interact with our surroundings, we can influence our thoughts.

In the practice of Yoga, Vinyasa means ‘to place in a special way, with a special breath’.

There is a sense of reverence for settling into each moment with full intention, of what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Yoga is a lifestyle, not just a set of shapes we make with our bodies on the mat. Vinyasa, therefore, also translates to our life off the mat – from the way we rise out of bed, to the way we pour hot water for our tea, fold our clothes or brush our teeth before bed.

It is to be intentional in giving attention to the present moment.

So how do we find this focus?

 

Rosanne Croucher_Whispers2016
Whispers (2016), Oil on Canvas | ©Rosanne Croucher Art

 

Trāṭaka is a practice of finding drishti, intent or focus, by holding a steady gaze on an object like a candle flame. There is a cultivation of presence, through the concentration of the physical gaze, but also of a sense of turning inwards in the mind. It is a kind of open-eyed meditation.

As the flame flickers, so does its reflection in our eyes, and the thoughts in our minds. Allow them. Acknowledge them. And stay, observing with curiosity, attentiveness, compassion.

In the steadiness of the gaze, we have the chance to see what arises in the mind. More importantly, we make space to observe our reactions to these thoughts – space without judgment or elaboration into habits and stories. Space to simply be present.

I’ve found this a soothing practise especially after a busy or fragmented day. Try it – and let me know how you go!

Trāṭaka | A 5-minute practise

Ground | Balance | Invigorate

This is a beautiful way to start an early morning or settle yourself before bed. It’s also a grounding way to check in with yourself any time of day. Whenever you practice, it is a powerful ritual to soothe and rebalance the nervous system, calm the mind, and settle your attention to the present.

The traditional practice is for up to 20 minutes, until the eyes start watering. The tears are important in cleansing away impurities in the eyes. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika elevates Trāṭaka as a practice that enhances connection to Ajna (third eye) chakra and washes away fatigue. 

Please note that a candle flame may not be appropriate for those with epilepsy, astigmatism, cataracts, or other forms of eye strain. A still natural object, like a seashell or stone, may be a suitable alternative.

What You Need:

  • Candle | pick your favourite, or a tea light candle will do the trick!
  • Comfortable, quiet, preferable darkened space
  • Phone on Do Not Disturb
  • Timer (optional)

The Practice:

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Make sure your spine is long and spacious.
  2. Set the candle about arm’s length away from you. You can set your timer, or indulge in a short session without worrying about the clock.
  3. Close down your eyes, and take 2-3 slow breathes, experiencing each inhalation as it travels through your body, and allowing full exhales to clear your lungs.
  4. Open the eyes slowly, and rest your drishti on the centre of the flame, close the wick of the candle. Let your gaze be soft, your eyes alert, and without blinking for as long as possible.
  5. Invite intention into the space between your eyes – Ajna (third eye) chakra, and the centre for our cognitive mind. You might imagine a soft gaze emanating out from this space.
  6. Thoughts will come – it’s what our mind does. Just as we don’t judge the shape of the flame, simply allow the thoughts to flicker into your mind, be aware they have arrived, and then let them pass by softly.
  7. If your eyes start to water, or you no longer sustain the gaze – lightly blink your eyes, and gently clean away any tears with a tissue. When you’re ready to close the eyes, focus on the afterimage of the flame. Allow it to move, to shift, and finally, to fade.
  8. You can follow this with a few deep breaths, pranayama, or meditation. Simply savour in the power of your moments, truly in experience.

 

 

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Being in a Body : How to Explore

. E X P L O R E .
From Latin ‘ex-‘ (out) ‘-plorare‘ (utter a cry)

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Emily French Photography

The humble roots of this word engages a sense of wonder, of amazement, of gasping and exclamation. To explore is to move into unfamiliar territory, and search without knowing what you will find. To examine what you see, hear, smell, touch; and to notice how you respond to these new experiences.

It is, in short, being curious about what we encounter, without judgment or attachment to a specific outcome. It is coming back to a child-like way of viewing the world; a perspective much more inclined towards true presence, joy, and discovery.

Sounds like a pretty fun way to experience the world, doesn’t it?

As an ‘adult’, however, exploring can become a challenging practice that takes a whole lot of dedication and self-awareness.

Even when we are alone, most of us inhabit an environment of multiple worlds. Each smartphone, tablet, and computer screen is a live portal to another unlimited dimension of information, in the form of images, videos, text, sound…they offer a version of exploration, but one engaging us only from the neck up.

Every moment we multitask, we are crowding our conscious mind to choose and prioritise: What is most important?

In the jungle of noise and choice, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To lose sight of your path. To feel your energy sapped away.

Which is why it’s so important to close your eyes, even for a moment or two, so you can pause, and come back to the landscape within.

 

Open House for Butterflies - stream listening
For many of us, diving within may feel daunting, and to be avoided at all costs.

 

Yes, exploring our minds can be scary. Especially when we are surrounded by a cacophony of voices not our own; voices that shout for approval, judgment, improvement.

When we are busy choosing, prioritizing, or stressing about past occasions and future possibilities, our inner landscape tightens, becoming rougher and more constricted. Our gentle rivers stop flowing, and there are jagged cliffs instead of lush green hills. We are preparing our heart and nervous system for survival – to fight, freeze, or flee.

What can we do, when we feel trapped in the swirl of these voices, mixing and shaping your own thoughts?

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Emily French Photography

This is when it’s most essential to remember that we are the makers of our inner landscape.

Even as we sit still, there is an ecosystem within our physical bodies that is constantly changing, and always in direct relationship to the state of our mind.

Any moment, we can choose to tune in to our breath. The gentle cycle of inhalation, followed by exhalation.

Listen for it, gently. Explore the textures, the rhythm, the physical sensation of transporting the air around you into your lungs, and the freshly oxygenated blood around your body, warming, transforming. Let your breath carry you around the terrain of your body…then release the breath, and release some of the tension along with it.

Then start again – new breath, new exploration, new landscape. What’s changing?

If we think we are in danger, there is no space to be curious.

If we come back within, as an explorer, and examine our inner terrain – without judgment or purpose, purely noticing – we will see that much of the time, there are no immediate threats.

Thank you, body, for looking out for danger, but right now… it’s actually all OK.

We are gifted with these bodies, to feel, to move, to experience. So be in the body, and explore with your senses. Release yourself, and let’s step out together, away from the cage of our own making.

Let’s start. With this breath, right now.

xx

Satyagraha :: Holding Your Truth

 

Lucy Lawes Yoga | Photo by Emily French Lifestyle
Photography | Emily French Lifestyle

 

:: s a t y a g r a h a | सत्याग्रह ::
satya | truth // graha | an insistence / holding firmly onto

This is a term developed by Gandhi, and was also referred to as ‘love-force’ or ‘soul-force’. To me it is a philosophy of strength and kindness; one that holds ahimsa (non-violence) at its core.

Especially in a world of frenetic voices and mixed messages, one of the most important things we can do is to find our own truth.

This means the difficult, and often messy process of digging down, past all the layers of should’s, uncertainties, expectations, doubts…and into the deepest, purest core of our being. This is the well that can replenish us, endlessly.

Our first step: choose to lean in, dance forward, and commit to the journey. A good place to start is by re-storying our experiences.

When a situation is tightly entwined with a specific feeling – joy, nurture, or perhaps shame or grief, it is often because we have experienced this encounter many times, with the same expectations, and the same results. Like a well-worn track, it locks into our bodies and our memories as a story – one we eventually to stop questioning, and mark as ‘truth’.

Real, yes – but is it really true?

We tend to see truth as absolute, but personal truths are subjective and need space for change.

What is true for you at 12 may not be true at 24, or 35, or 80. This doesn’t mean any of these truths are wrong; they are simply different aspects of you, at different times of your growth.

We need to question the possibility of alternative narratives. Because if we hold to one story, we will never be able to allow for the growth that comes with a new and unexpected twist; one that leads to a new chapter.

One un-truth I am coming to release is common among many of us, but oh-so-nuanced and so entangling. Those 4 little words with big, big implications:

‘I am not enough.’

I’m not pretty enough. Not toned enough. I am not strong enough. I am not happy enough, not confident enough, not hungry enough, not loved enough, not caffeinated enough, not outgoing enough…

ENOUGH!

Whose voice is telling you this? Whose ‘truth’ are you listening to?

How many seasons of ‘not enough‘ are you willing to shrivel through before you choose to cast this false winter coat aside?

Say it aloud. Right now.
‘I am enough. You are enough. We ARE enough.’

We are circles, being taught to fit into amorphous cookie cutter shapes.

No.

There is far more strength, beauty, resilience, grace, and fullness in a circle – in you – than you may even realise.

Let go of someone else’s cookie cutter, and be a circle. Be your own circle. Truthful. Complete. Whole.

You’re already there.

xx

A Spring Renewal: Finding Wisdom in the Old

Still Life with Otter (2012)
Still Life with Otter (2012), Oil on Canvas, 12″ x 18″

What is the core limiting belief keeping you small?
Who would you be if you didn’t believe this anymore?
 Tara Brach

I looked at this painting on the wall last night, and realised that it is one of my favourite. It’s been 2 years since painting it, and I am in a completely different place in my life, but somehow this little otter still captures a feeling I have finally began to understand-

That we are designed not to be perfect, but to be alive. 

This means we will continually change, adapt, grow, from forces internal and external. Growth is messy, it can be unpredictable, it takes hard work, and what we become is hardly ever what we expected in the beginning.

This little otter is not holding hands with a fellow sea otter as they should (to avoid being pulled away by the tides as they sleep). He is alone, but not lonely. His expression is one of peace.

Comfort, familiarity, safety … is nice. We all yearn for it. But just as a tree cannot grow strong without the downward pull of gravity,and the push and pull of the winds, we need discomfort in order to grow, change, transform.

There needs to be some darkness for us to see the light.

It is up to us to choose our path, and we choose how we experience the path. These choices can be daunting, but they are also empowering – as long as we remember that even a climb to Mt Everest was done one step at a time.

So my question now is:

Would you rather be perfect, or be alive? Will you stay comfortable, or will you choose to grow?

This Spring, Mr Otter, I’m with you.

xx

5 Things I have learnt from Yoga

Have you ever looked up from doing something, and realized that time has flown by?

I find that happens often. But when you look up and realize that months have gone by, it’s nice to take a few moments to reflect on how things have changed.

It’s been about a year since my first class with Australian Yoga Academy. Through this time, and through the wonderful teachers there, I have grown in many ways, and there is a great renewal in how I view time, energy, and the privilege of having a body. It has changed my perception of change itself.

Here are 5 lessons I can share – and it’s just the beginning.

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The Short Version:
 

Breathe.
Listen.
Learn Presence.
Have Compassion.
Channel Energy.

The Extended Version:

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1. Inhale. Exhale. Pause.

If a fish has never left the water, does it know what water is?

When you have been breathing all your life, you can be forgiven for taking it for granted. But it really is worth much more attention. Many of us spend so much time buried in the past, or anxious about the future. Isnt’ there a better way to spend our most precious gift  – the aptly named ‘present’?

The breath can bring us to this gift.

In practicing meditation or yoga asana, now is the only time.

In the now, nothing outside the bounds of your mat matters. All that you can do is make the most of each moment you have, to feel what it’s like to be a living, breathing, moving being.

Breath is life force. It is known in Eastern philosophy as chi, or prana. Breathing impacts the functioning of every single cell in your body, and has enormous capacity to influence your mood and perception of the world.

In our fast, multi-tasking culture, we tend to start taking anxiety-breaths: shoulders are hunched, chest tucks in, neck stoops down as we concentrate on the artificial glow of a screen. We unconsciously move towards a foetal position, closing out the world, and our breath becomes shallow, irregular, irrelevant. Our inhalation is short and sharp – more akin to a sequence of gasping than a nourishing drawing of oxygen into the diaphragm.

Cells love being oxygenated. You are made of your cells. Therefore your body loves it when you breathe properly. But we can forget to listen.

Your cells protest – ‘more energy, please!’
Sometimes this cry translates as: ‘I’m exhausted, time for coffee!’

Coffee, I admit, can be a joyous treat to have. But next time you feel wilted, distressed or wanting something to keep you from yelling at a cushion, try something different.

Try taking a breath. SLOWLY. In through your nose, out through your nose.
And another. And then another.

Really relish in the sensation of fresh air flowing through your nostrils, tickling its way down to your lungs; instead of letting your chest rise, enjoy the feeling of your belly expanding so that the whole of your lungs can be enriched with oxygen.

[Trust me, no one, except you, cares if you stop sucking in for a few seconds.]

Take 5, deep, full breaths. Each one growing your spine taller. Your shoulders broader. Your neck longer.

Feel all the trillions of living cells within your body. It’s pretty special.

And here’s where we can pause.
To reflect, for an instant, on where we are (safe), how we are (present) and what we are feeling (alive). To pause from striving to seek more, and remember our gratitude for what is here.

It takes just two minutes of your time to anchor into your breath. Why not give it a go: your cells – and your health – will be happier for it.

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2. Your body has wisdom beyond your knowledge. Listen.

You might be smarter than me, but your body knows things that you aren’t even aware of – or don’t want to admit.

There’s no hiding the truth from our bodies. It constantly tries to communicate with us – the key is to start listening.

Whenever I am met with new challenges, my first reaction (as opposed to response, an intention-based action) is often to make, and sometimes eat good food.
Because it’s what I know well,  what I know to be ‘safe’. To be ‘good’ for me.

But it’s not good when it becomes the distraction, the procrastination, and later, the source of intense guilt for not facing what I’m meant to.

In practicing the postures (asana) of yoga, one trains to become more intuitive about what each part of the body is doing. It’s about coordinating the parts to create movement as a whole, balancing on that fine line between effort and ease. It requires a lot of listening, or else you topple over, quite literally.

Once I started being more aware of my body on the mat, it was logical to apply it off the mat too.

Instead of automatically acting upon habit whenever I felt unbalanced, and starting to breathe instead, I discovered that I am never really hungry in reaching for food in these situations. I realised what I seek is stability and familiarity. The kitchen is familiar. Making a big batch of cookies is comforting.

My mind knows when I am venturing towards terra incognita. And that can be frightening. So it attempts a diversion.

We often shallow dive into our inner pool of emotion, skimming the surface but not daring to go underneath the blue unknown.

But this is the place where your truths are found. And only you can dive into it. It is also the only way to adventure, and a sure path to growth.
It’s the path I’d like to explore – cookies preferred, but optional.

When was the last time you felt intuition speak? What has your body been telling you? Are you brushing this aside, or will you let yourself listen?

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3. Be Present. Find balance and strength by first finding focus. 

‘Drishti’ is a Sanskrit word that describes a focused gaze. Setting your drishti is essential to practicing those tricky, awkward balances in yoga, and eventually, making it feel graceful and expressive. The same can be applied to finding this balance and strength in your choices.

Nothing is of a single dimension. To call it duality is too simplified, but it is easier to understand. There is a yin and yang, dark and light, hard and soft qualities to everything we encounter – and it is a continuum. For many of the choices we encounter, there is no absolute right or wrong. The impact of each decision is nuanced and in (many) shades of grey.

I’ve never been a strong decision maker, particularly for the small things. The choices available (even if it’s choosing which flavour of ice cream) can be overwhelming – and then I fall into the steps of assessing what will be best for the environment, for my own well-being, for the people I am with, and a plethora of other factors.

It’s no wonder I’m torn; it’s impossible to please everyone, yet this is what my mind is trying to do. And in the end, the impact of the decision is often minute compared to the time and distress I cause myself.

Here’s where focus comes in. To know your focus, you need to know your Why.

Why you do something is the cement that stabilizes the foundations for your choices. If you know why, then you can back yourself up – to others, but also to yourself.

If you trust in your Why, then each decision you make will be aligned with what you believe in. It will bring balance. Strength. Stability.

(Simon Sinek elaborates on this brilliantly.)

So before you make a move, breathe and pause -then  reflect on your Why.
And if you don’t know your Why, know that it’s absolutely fine to stay still, and find your drishti first, so that you direct your energy in the most worthwhile way.

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4. Embrace imperfection. Have Compassion.

Perfection is death. It is an end, a place of no further. What more can you do with something that is frozen, and impossible to improve upon?
Let’s choose to be alive instead, for a  flawed life well-lived is better than an existence unexplored.

Yoga is a space to train the physical body, but also the mind – much more than I originally realized. Many think that yoga is about the postures and the movement in between, with ultimate achievement being some graceful rendition of an impossibly twisted pose while balancing on fingertips…which is impressive, but certainly far from the purpose of yoga.

The intention is not to achieve a set goal, but to explore and ease the fluctuations within our own mind and body as we present it with challenges. Our abilities and capacity for being challenged shifts each day, according to our mood, health, life events and even the seasons and weather. Yoga teaches us to give, generously, from whatever we have in that moment. It teaches us to practice compassion, rather than judgement, for what our best may be on that day.

Compassion is the key. The word originates from the Latin compassio(n), meaning ‘to suffer with’. This word usually appears in the context of having empathy for others, but I have learnt that your ability to share and be empathetic is limited by the compassion you offer yourself.

Being kind to others at the detriment of yourself is not true kindness at all. If you’re at all like me, you will know that judgement of yourself can grow like weeds in your mind. And this can also lead to judgment of others, however unintentional.

Discipline is important. And working hard is good. But this internal harshness towards oneself when things go wrong (especially when it is out of your control) never fixes the problem.

Next time you find yourself being harsh and critical with your own thought or actions, take yourself out of your shoes. If it was your sister, or best friend, or teacher, who did the same thing, how would you respond? How does that differ from your response towards yourself?

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5. Life is energy. Use yours wisely.

Energy cannot be destroyed – only transformed.
We have the creative power to choose how we transform our energy. 

From the air we breathe, the food we eat, the calories we use to run or the electricity to light our homes, everything is energy. In today’s world of disposable-everything’s, we tend to forget that it all runs on a loop, where each part affects all others.

This loop is also true of our physiology and our emotional energy. Intaking food grown in healthy soils, harvested sustainably and prepared with care, will nourish the body and add to your desire for wellbeing. Breathing mindfully and sensing the prana as it circulates will enhance your mental awareness, and add to your awareness of the next breath. If you think good thoughts, you will glow from the inside out. But the same is true in reverse – food that throws your body out of balance will conjure cravings, hyperventilating will lead to shorter, shallower breaths, judgements or harmful thinking will lead to negative thought loops. And it always starts with our mind.

Yoga is about removing this barrier between mind and body. To align our energies so that all is flowing and connected. It is discovering that particular balance of energy: between effort and ease, strength and softness. This helps empower us to become more of who we really are. It helps us realize that we are not our own enemy.

What thoughts do you accept as truths, and how does that inspire or inflict upon our energy levels, our moods, and behaviour? Moreover, how does this affect the people and the environment around you?

= = =
**
= = =

Words cannot express the nuances of my appreciation for Yoga as a teacher, on and off the mat. It challenges, it strengthens, it heals – from the inside out. Its lessons have impacted me far more than I anticipated.

My hope is that everyone can have the opportunity to experience its ability to help heal, grow, and expand your perception of the world, and of yourself.

xx

Why you should pick up the pencil, anyway.

I often feel stuck.
This is when I reach for food. (Why is another long story in itself.)

Instead of confronting what is really important: a decision, an action, a feeling – I reach for something I know well. Something comforting.

And each time, I end up in a state where I feel

a) Guilty
b) In denial
c) Inadequate

I’m sure you’ve felt your own version of this.

You probably know that all these feelings increase in intensity each time the same issue arises.

And when we finally confront what it is that we have been avoiding, it’s like lifting a heavy weight from our shoulders. The resolution is rarely as difficult as initially imagined.

So why is it that we create such burden for ourselves?

Draw

 

To know what you are going to draw, you have to begin drawing.
-Picasso

It’s the last day of 2015. That time of year again, to set new intentions, for renewed hope.

Uncertainty will continue to capture us. To tell us ‘No’. Conjured beliefs from the world around us will slip inside our minds, to plant ugly seeds of doubt, and whispers of imagined incapacity.

My intention is to pick up that pencil anyway. And just start drawing. Sometimes, to prove our self-doubt wrong is the first step to doing right.

If you need an extra breather, here are some ideas to help you balance your mind.

Our bodies hold more wisdom than the Western credo gives credit for. Let’s be kind to it first, and find a quiet peace within, so we can learn to hear what it has to say.

How do you work around uncertainty?

 

 

A battle of rain and sea

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I live in the clouds.

It’s hard to imagine being
battered by unceasing waves, rocks –
pounding,
crashing.

Hard to imagine the sting of salt
and porous stone
when fingertips are tickled by cotton candy.
But clouds will fall
as rain
drops splattering down

‘tshhhhhhh’

Hiss of a deep sea beast
choir of the fallen army

Who will win?

Or do they know
they are – they will be – as one?

 

Why each year always passes way too fast

Live for the little things

It’s nice being ‘in the flow’.
It is a timeless, effortless space, where all that matters is the point of focus at hand. It is a magical place to be in – for me it can be a lazy afternoon on the beach, an inspired afternoon in the studio, a flowing vinyasa, or perhaps a really good book.

In those moments, this arbitrary installation we call time ceases to matter, because all of our awareness is directed to the present. There is no worry about the future, or dwelling on the past. We are just being.

For me drawing is a form of flow, of meditation, and of being: observe, transform, create. I love that feeling of making the first mark on fresh white paper; how even the simplest line drawing can connect individual minds, and translate so much emotion.

Similarly, I have discovered a form of being through yoga. There is an intrinsic awareness of movement, of breath, of the aliveness that literally yokes the world within and outside our body. This gaze, or Drishti, towards our inner world can be daunting, and sometimes confronting, but it always offers more light onto our inner self, how we wish to be, and how we can become.

If we were able to be in this flow, and present in all moments, I do not think so many of us would reach this time of the year, and recoil in surprise at the word December! I am one of these people right now.

Instead, our lives are filled with distractions, both accidental and self-imposed. Sometimes we purposely avoid doing the things that really matter, for fear we will make a mistake, and not live up to the apparently picture perfect faux-realities that reside only in our Instagram and Facebook perpetuated lives.

We constantly seek more, beyond all that is already within our grasp, and although curiosity and ambition can be great forces of growth, they tend to neglect the treasures we already have at hand – including time.

 

As an artist and now, on my path towards being a yoga teacher, I want to remind people of the beautiful, intricate sensations in life; to seek and find joy in the hidden details usually missed. Because these little moments of connection are truly precious.

And to achieve this I must make sure I am also doing the same. So this is my intention for the new year, and for this blog.

  1. To take the time to savour each moment, without labelling it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – because there are always positives and negatives to all situations.
  2. To expect nothing, and accept everything as it comes. Because procrastination and denial are only ways of delaying the inevitable.
  3. To make each step on this earth conscious, steady, and true, and in turn, leave space for others to do the same.

I might add a fourth intention – to write more. I hope that by reflecting on the inspiration, experiences and lessons I encounter, it will help me become more conscientious, more grateful, and more independent from the tugging of distractions and beliefs that are not my own.

I hope, too, that by sharing this it will offer you even the smallest nudge of encouragement towards bringing life to what you believe wholeheartedly.

As Marianne Williamson observes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

 

Perhaps we could all be less fearful, more powerful, and more aware human beings, if we take the time to really experience time itself, instead of spending this precious gift by lamenting its sneaky, stealthy disappearance.

Time will pass anyway. So let’s observe it, feel it, and bid farewell when the time comes and goes.

x

What’s the rush?

Claude Monet - Waterlilies (1919)
Claude Monet – Waterlilies (1919)

Pause.

It’s such a simple word, a simple concept. It’s a comma in time.

Yet in today’s fast moving world, the pause has accumulated an alternate meaning, becoming a sign of imperfect ability. Needing to pause means you are not able to arrive at your destination in one breath. This must mean you are less capable than those who can.

But what’s the rush?

We are creatures made to move, and we certainly make the most of it. Rushing around pumped by caffeine, perhaps not noticing what breakfast really tasted like, or the enormous cumulus clouds hovering in the sky, or realizing that a small dog with a jingling collar watched as we strode past.

‘Don’t stop’, the world says. To be productive, ambitious, successful, you have to be on the go. And we listen.

But what’s the rush?

I am certainly guilty of listening to this inner voice, urging me on. Trapped in this map of time and to-do’s and constant distraction. When we are lost in this hectic space we are disconnected from the real life around us. We become unaware of anything outside our narrow, absorbed tangle of anxiety that is all about the past, the future, but not the present.

Our world becomes small, petty. Anything that gets in the way of us zooming through on our mission is a headache to be manoeuvred or dealt with as swiftly as possible.

But what’s the rush?

When we forget about the present, we forget about Mystery. Curiosity. The exploration of something unexpected. Those childhood qualities which, if nurtured, can develop into the greatest innovation.

Perhaps we cling to action as an anchor, especially when we are afraid of the alternative. It feels safer to be running somewhere – anywhere – than to stand your ground and face something unknown. Evolutionarily, this is a win, and a quick-fix solution to threat.

But what’s the rush?

On Happiness, and the way you think about doing things

Odilon Redon
Odilon Redon

Happiness is not a destination, it is the flowers you see and smell and maybe pick up as you make your way.

It can be a quiet cup of hot tea in the morning sun; a cooling breeze tingling your neck after a hot run; the comforting hug from a loved one; the sight and sound of the ocean waves.

I have a sneaking feeling that regardless of age, gender, nationality, values and taste, we have an lot more in common than we think. It’s in these tiny yet significant pleasures that often connects us with strangers, or makes us really feel our surroundings.

Sometimes I feel guilt, for wanting that which makes me smile. Who am I to deserve such pleasure, when there’s so many out there without the basic comforts we take for granted?
But it is not self-centred to seek things that make you glad. The better and more mindful we feel, spiritually, mentally, physically, the more each of us can spread this goodness.

So today, as you dash forth towards your goals and deadlines and the completion of to-do lists… take a moment to listen to your breath, your life force.

Then ask: What makes me happy?

Go smell those flowers, and be glad for it.

xx