I slowly crept my car forward as pedestrian after pedestrian just kept stepping in front of me. Not looking at me, just continually striding out in front of the car as I tried to get through the intersection. Clearly, I was expected to stop and give way. And just as clearly there was no interest in how long I was waiting or the idea of sharing. I don't believe all these folks are mean. I don't believe they even realize what is happening around them. I believe they are distracted with all that is going on in their minds. I have to get to class on time. I have to do this tonight. I have to remember to... I am so frustrated with....
Our world today is made up of a whirlwind of noise, chaos and fervour. We are expected to move ever faster and more efficiently. Do more with less is the constant message from employers. Students aren't learning for the sake of learning, they are learning so they get a good job. We exercise so we are healthy and fit, not because we love moving our bodies. When we do have moments of not doing, we look to fill the gaps of space with social media, blogging, Netflix. We take up kickboxing, or climbing, we ensure we get to a yoga flow class and if the heat is up, all the better. In the movement and sweat we can reaffirm we belong. Everybody does hot yoga right?!? We hang out at popular coffee shops, sipping lattes and moaning about the struggle of our economic times. Or reliving the conversation that has us ruminating about the injustices around us.
We find something to DO.
January 2016, rising at 4 am to meditate, the silence surrounding me. No cell service, no internet, no one to talk to, no coffee to be had. Just the jackals and birds in the predawn. Silence opening the door to a deeper understanding of a separate world. A world where all that happened around me was a movie I was watching, not something I was a part in, rather, a reality I could step into it and not lose this sense of who I really am when I am not reacting, but rather just being who I am.
As I integrated back to the world of work responsibilities, house chores and friendships, the habit of reacting began to emerge again. Even with the morning of silence, by the end of a day of DOING, I wanted to be distracted. I wanted Netflix, tasty snacks, or social activities. But with months between the silence and contentment of India and the now reality of distraction, I notice an ongoing sense of discontent that has emerged. The discontent that drives me to my computer screen, or iPad. The need to fill space. The reacting to things rather than just being with things as they are.
It takes time of stepping into silence everyday to regain the sense of responding from a sense of being rather than doing. The first step, to see it happening. Then to slow the breath, emphasizing a longer exhale. Feel the support around you; the chair under you, the floor beneath you. The warmth of the clothes you are wearing. This awareness begins to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest response. As you begin to relax and breathe more deeply, now you can stop the "doing" of the mind and settle into just being open and curious.
Who am I? How do I feel about this? Why do I feel so strongly? What if I don't know for sure or I am wrong?
Then most important question to ask... Who do I want to be in the next few moments, or in this situation?
When we understand this, our world is a little freer from the distractions. We are steady, strong like the mountain as the snow and wind sweep along the rock face. We just are what we are, human beings, not human doings, and the clouds move around us. We feel no need to move the clouds.