How often do you encounter people who tell you to slow down? If you haven’t met anyone lately who tells you to put on the brakes, for the sake of your soul…let me take a moment to welcome you here.
We are addicted to speed.
We get irritated if our wifi isn’t quick enough. We fume when the drive thru lane at Starbucks is going faster than the line at the counter. We are frustrated when an email does not receive a response within the hour.
Yeah, you love speed. If you live in a Western culture, or work and live with mostly westerners, you know the drill now.
We’ve become addicted.
We are addicted to smooth, quick, fast and convenient.
We are riding the fast train to efficiency and success.
We like to be busy.
Why? Because we feel important.
Because busy people are viewed as successful. We actually feel peer pressure to keep busy in the west.
We glorify busy-ness in our culture—even to the point of using this dynamic in our greetings. Here in the Middle East, we greet one another by saying, how is your body? In the west, we ask, How are you doing—keeping busy? As if this is the goal. The prized state of being.
And do you know what? It’s not good for us.
Our hearts are pumping faster and our adrenalin rushes are becoming more and more necessary to keep us going on the fast track.
And in the process, we are losing the art of sensuality. We are more drawn to our screens that we are to the smell of the outdoors. We are pleased to have a companion in Facebook, screen to screen, as opposed to sitting with a real person in a cafe, body to body, face to face, breath to breath.
We’ve lost the art of Listening. Listening to our bodies. Listening to our loved ones. Listening to the voice of the Holy One.
Maybe no one is telling you this right now….
So I will.
For your sake, and the sake of your loved ones. For the sake of your future and for the sake of your purpose here on earth:
Step out of the fray. Stop striving. Consider working less. Put down your screens. Take a break. Speak more softly. Find more space and time for quiet. Ask God, What would you have me do? Wait… listen.
Take the gentler road.
I’ve spent countless hours working with overwhelmed clients who — feeling the pull and tug of many expectations — end up experiencing complete overwhelm and burnout.
Some of these states of “overwhelm” can be prevented — but most people are lacking the skills to stave off the personal chaos that the adrenalin creates.
Are you sensing the need to shift toward a gentler pace right now? Do you feel the need to slow down? Are you noticing the drain the “keeping busy” mentality is having on your health? Your relationships? Your spiritual life?
If so, sit down and answer the following four questions:
What I am feeling?
Many of us, unaware of our emotional state, keep pushing forward without listening to the warning signs of fatigue or stress. Sometimes, the stress becomes so great and unmanageable that it turns into an anxiety disorder. Why? Because in the absence of slowing down and listening to our bodies, we are lacking the attention, introspection and insight required to address mounting stress. Answering the question: “what emotion am I feeling?” can begin to address the source of discomfort and hence begin the repair process toward living more intentionally and peacefully.
What do I want?
This isn’t a selfish question. Even the bible says that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. Think about your work. The way you spend your free time. How often are you operating completely out of alignment or incongruence with what you desire or want? Never pausing to ask ourselves this question results in, at best, a low-grade numbness. At worst, depression and despair. Asking the question : “What do I want?” enlivens us. Awakens us. The question “what do I want” draws us in toward our deepest intention and destiny and purpose.
What do I need?
From the moment we are born as helpless beings, we begin learning the art of self-comfort. We begin self-soothing from day one. Some of what we do to self-soothe is appropriate and healthy. And yet some of what we reach for for comfort can become addictive. As we begin to pay attention to our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts, we learn to notice the importance of what it is we truly need. Asking the question: “What do I need?” moves us toward the core of who we are. It develops our insight about which self-soothing habits are healthy and which are not. Asking “what do I need?” will address the question: ”What will fill me?” and “what will leave me void and hungry for more?”.
What do I value?
Life is short.
What are you doing right now?
Is WHAT YOU DO in alignment with what you value? Think about your daily activities. Your “life’s work”. Is this where you want to be?
Frederick Buechner directs us to a razor sharp focus when he states : the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and wordless deep hunger meet.” Are you intersecting with the world’s deepest hunger? Are you meeting the “world’s” hunger with your deepest gladness?
Wait a minute, you might say.
These questions are disruptive. Unsettling.
Yes, they are.
And that is a good thing.
If you want to live a life of numbness and speed, then cast off the points here that require you to re-consider your path.
if you are interested in moving from a frenetic and unexamined speed to a slower way of Life…start now. Begin paying attention. Begin listening. Create space for a renewed focus and vision. In order to find deeper satisfaction and abundance —now— the way of Life — consider adding some moments of silence to your day to begin the gentler path. Think twice before your check, read, and respond to that email, text, distraction here and now.
Carve out an hour or two to ask your self the four questions.
And let the gentler path roll out in front of you.