Hurryhurryhurry. Rushrushrush. NownowNOW.
This is society today. Everything we read is either doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it (great—R.E.M. is going to be echoing in my head all day now) or it’s gimme gimme gimme consumerism gone wild. I have to have it and I have to have it NOW.
Nothing good comes to us in this manner. It is inevitably very easy to fall in to the trap of believing everything must happen soon sooner soonest, especially in the context of a perceived shortage of money. Bills must be paid, after all, and they must be paid on time. The kids need school supplies and I just stained my last good shirt and DAMMIT the car needs tires and everything always happens at once WHY ME?!?!
Deep breath now. Calming breath. Take ten minutes to yourself. Yes, you deserve it. Just ten minutes spent focusing on all the wonder in your life. All the blessings. Look for them, and I promise they’ll be there. More than you realize while you’re fighting for breath and seemingly drowning in the everyday demands and expectations which can seem so overwhelming.
Ten minutes. To be grateful. To wallow in your glory rather than your misery. To connect with your bliss rather than your angst.
Ten minutes to feel and bask in the love that surrounds you. See and absorb the beauty of the clouds. Watch as the grass seems to rejoice in the rain. Revel in the birds as they take joy in their bath. Feel the breeze on your face. Thank the rain for replenishing the flowers for you to enjoy.
Dance in the peace. You owe it to yourself to slow down and reduce the demands you make on yourself and on life in general.
No, ten minutes is not the complete solution to all of your life’s dilemmas. But those precious, quiet, solitary ten minutes, set aside daily, can open countless doors and windows and curtains in your mind. They can bring you clarity. “The muddiest water clears as it is stilled”.*
Life can be very hectic and the demands it makes on us seem constant and relentless. We control our reaction to those demands, though. We can allow them to overwhelm us, to stress us and immobilize us. Or we can remain calm and simply do what we can do, right this moment.
Stress is a bitch. It cripples us. It destroys our bodies and overloads our minds to the point of incapacity. It is panic and ego telling us that we aren’t enough and never will be. It is self-defeating and therefore self-fulfilling prophecy. It shuts out reason and confidence as it takes over and doing becomes so much more important than being.
Peace cannot come to the rushed mind. Do your daily duty as you see it, fulfilling your responsibilities with gratitude that you are able to do so, or even to get close. Don’t chase life. Like the dog chasing his tail, it will remain forever just out of reach. But when the dog finally tires and lies down, he curls up with his tail beside his face, easily within reach. The dog knows that the chase is just a game; do you? Be still and allow clarity to come.
Allow life to come to you. Just as grasping at water forces it from your hand, attempting to seize and force joy from life merely pushes that joy further away. Allow life to happen. Be grateful for what you have and for what’s flowing to you.
After all, if like attracts like, then gratitude inevitably attracts more to be grateful for.
In The Way Of Life According To Lao Tzu, Witter Bynner’s 1944 poetic translation of the Tao Te Ching, He enlivens the 15th verse like this:
How can a man’s life keep its course
If he will not let it flow?
Those who flow as life flows know
They need no other force:
They feel no wear, they feel no tear,
They need no mending, no repair.
To struggle is a choice. To hurry and rush and stress are choices. You may not exert control over everything that happens in your world, but you 100% control your reactions to your daily stimuli.
Ten minutes of stillness can make a huge difference, I promise. You don’t need to “clear your mind” and wipe clean your thoughts (I’m not even sure that’s possible). Just sit in silence and breathe. Listen to and feel the air moving in your nose and chest. Feel your pulse slow and the knots in your stomach loosen. When your thoughts drift back to your stressors, just gently redirect them back to your breath. Don’t judge or curse yourself for it, just calmly return to breathing. If you feel you need something to “think about”, review once more the things you’re grateful for. Smile at each gift in your life. From your children or pets to the dime you picked off the sidewalk today and the total stranger who held the door for you at Starbucks.
Ten minutes. Ten minutes of not chasing and not rushing.
Ten minutes without doing.
Ten minutes of just being.
*–From Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, by Dr, Wayne W. Dyer, 15th Verse of the Tao Te Ching.