The Art Of Slowing Down This Holiday Season
November 20, 2011
The start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a perfect “time” to reflect on our relationship to time and what affect it has on our lives. Thanksgiving is the kick-off to 6 weeks where most people hit the ground running and don’t stop until they crash on January 1 only to soon after typically be faced by a cold, weight gain, depression, and a host of other not-so-fun stuff: the distress that inevitably comes from running yourself ragged both physically and emotionally.
No matter what time of year, the fast pace of the American lifestyle today is a well-known fact, as is the profound effect nonstop hurrying has on your health. Think about the way you go through your daily activities. Do you allot plenty of time to get them all done? Do you do them with ease and enjoy what you are doing? When you are driving somewhere, do you see the trees or the architecture around you? Do you appreciate the sun or the clouds? OR do you rush with clenched jaw and fists throughout the day, not noticing anything except for your to do list, feeling totally stressed, and as though there is NEVER enough time?
One important question to decode the time crunch mystery is: what is your personal relationship to time? Are you always late? Always early? (Both are really different sides of the same coin, as they both cause stress.) Do you see time as your enemy? As something that happens TO you? That you have no control over?
How is our relationship to time determined? A plethora of psychological and environmental factors combine to create your specific time dynamic. The good news is that none of that matters if you really want to change it. Awareness is the first step. Desire for a different experience is the next.
Part of what we are exploring here is MINDFULNESS: clear moment-to-moment awareness of what is actually happening. When we are thinking about what’s next, we are robbed of the moment we are currently in. Living in the future, immediate or long-term, can be a trap for inaction.
Allow me to make clear the time transformation idea by sharing my story. I recently had a shocking epiphany about my relationship to time. I was always proud about NEVER being late to anything. I had very little tolerance for tardiness from anyone. I left restaurants, fought with people, and self-righteously judged latecomers. My friends fell into two categories, the ones I could count on and the flaky ones (a.k.a. time challenged). I rushed everywhere, all the time, even when there was no good reason. The act of constantly hurrying is physically stressful. For me, rushing made me short-tempered with people. Tourists walking slow in Time Square could send me into a tizzy of anger and negativity. The sweeping generalizations would start and the rest of my day could be colored in harshness. I never thought about this dynamic until that night. The amount of self-induced stress I was creating was embarrassing once I realized what was happening. For all those years, I thought time was happening to me. Only to realize it was all, quite literally, in my mind.
The first thing I did with my newfound knowledge was to pledge, “no rushing anywhere, anymore”. When I did that, my world changed. I started affirming everyday that I had exactly the right amount of time I need. My husband would remind me in a loving way when I forgot. Our dynamic changed completely around time. My typical “you are going to make me late” rant ended. We used to be polarized. I would expect him to make me late, and, therefore, he would not disappoint. We have a great friendship and a great marriage, yet things would really turn acrimonious around this issue. Removing that dynamic from our lives has been a blessing.
Another major change that happened for me was my ability and desire to BE HERE NOW. No matter what is happening I want to be here to experience it, mind and body. The main shift internally is near elimination of a boatload of daily stress. I consciously choose not to stress about time even if the subway is running late, thereby making me late. The world will not end. I will not spontaneously combust into flames.
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