Stop Rushing and Start Arriving
Rushing is a habit that is at the core of a stressful life and stops you from ever fully arriving in the present moment. The image of a Zen monk raking the sand-garden slowly and mindfully is at odds with the western lifestyle of hurrying from one thing to the next but it need not be; calm and deliberate actions are as simple as learning to enjoy the present moment and being your natural self.
Living authentically and fully in the present moment is common advice when it comes to living happily and peacefully. Thich Nhat Hanh emphasises making the present moment your home and Eckhart Tolle tells us all about the power of now. So how do we live that way?
An easy way to harness the peace and the power of now is to make a conscious effort stop rushing. You will never be able to enjoy being where you are if you’re always habitually rushing to get somewhere else. To stop rushing is to stop trying to escape the present moment and get somewhere else and to instead be delighted by the moment you are in; however boring or mundane or scary it may seem. If you make a habit of being delighted to be in every moment, then it will soon become effortless and natural; and you can find yourself enjoying the most simple events in your day. Make a habit out of being in the now and your life will show you the beauty of simplicity.
All too often we use the present moment as a ‘means to an end’ just passing through to get somewhere else and we never truly arrive home to the present moment. This is the essence of what psychologist have called the ‘hurry sickness’ – never truly arriving home to the present moment. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh warns:
“If you cannot learn to enjoy doing the mundane things in life, you will never truly be able to enjoy what you are looking forward to.”
Of course sometimes there are unpleasant situations that we hide from, try and forget or just don’t want to experience fully. In mindfulness therapy this is called ‘experiential avoidance‘ a fancy name for fear perhaps but it is clear by fully experiencing these difficult emotions we can facilitate healing and recovery from trauma. Stop trying to ‘rush away’ from unpleasant feelings and arrive staring straight at them, you might be surprised how liberating that can be and how much courage we really do have as human beings. As Zen Teacher Brad Warner says:
“You can always improve your situation. But you do so by facing it, not by running away.”
I have arrived home and I am complete just the way I am. This affirmation can be repeated every time the ambition to be somewhere else, or fix yourself or change something or run away from something – instead you can find yourself being elated to have arrived at your final destination; the Now. The only place happiness can ever be found. That messy and chaotic thing called life. This is an eternal moment, it is never not now, this eternity can be directly experienced and by taking ‘time’ out of the equation you remove stress from the situation.
By slowing down it’s amazing how easy it is to start enjoying what your doing. Like magic by giving whatever you’re doing your full and undivided attention you become ‘zenned out’ enabling the ability to find charm and beauty in every detail of your life.
To be in the present also means to offer a calm presence to whatever you are doing and whomever you are with. By offering your unhurried presence to children they are nourished and bloom. To offer your unhurried presence to anyone is the greatest gift you can give. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says:
“Presence is the greatest present you can give”
The point of playing music is not to finish the fastest; the orchestra’s members are not competing to see who can get to the end the quickest. Timing is essential in music, not playing too fast or too slow allows the harmonious creative expression of the music. Just like in life – by not rushing through things you can create harmony and bring a sense of grace to what ever you find yourself doing.
Life is not always great, being mindful does not guarantee that but as Brad Warner hints at the Zen nature of now when he says:
“The state of ambiguity – that messy, greasy, mixed-up, confused, and awful situation you’re living through right now – is enlightenment itself.”
Athletes don’t rush and can be incredibly calm in stressful situations. The best performers are those who master giving themselves fully to what they are doing. In fact athletes often appear as if they have ‘all the time in the world’ to perform their complex skills, and sports psychologist have called this state ‘being in the zone’. Being in the ‘zone’ of life is a talent you can learn that can empower you to have the timing of an athlete in day to day living and live life fully in the never ending unfolding of eternity.
Moments that we rush through are the small moments that make up our life and they deserve our full attention. As John Lennon once warned:
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
Arriving home in the present requires more than just mindfulness or paying attention to what is going on; the missing ingredient in modern mindfulness practice these days is the remembering of who you are. It is not enough to just stop and smell the roses, you should also remember that you are the sweetest thing already.
To remember that your deepest self transcends time and is always perfectly complete just as it is helps to relax and be content wherever you are. There is a very important aspect to your being that cannot be improved with time and does not want to get anywhere except to arrive fully in the now. This can be simply called Awareness, there is always a luminous witness behind all events that just like the sky is unaffected by the passing weather of experience. Contacting this clear and luminous nature of ourselves is the purpose of meditation and the intent of mindfulness.
We can learn through mindfulness and meditation that contentment and a calm presence is available in every single moment not just the ‘important moments’. This empowers you not be rushed and to find peace in every step. Being mindful and living fully in the now awakens our confidence that the wisdom and compassion that we need are always already within us.