Several years ago at the outset of all the changes that have recently taken place in my life I was talking to my coach about my constant feeling of breathlessness, feelings of permanently running to keep up with myself. Racing up the stairs, never walking anywhere, always desperate to cram another job, another activity into an already overloaded schedule. And then it hit me, I stopped and told him that I was so desperate to stride forward in my life, to race through the pain I knew I was going to have to experience, yet….
“It’s as if I know somewhere really deep down that if I could only slow down, stopping to breathe, experience life, that I’ll get to where I want to be much more quickly.”
What a peculiar paradox it felt yet I knew it to be true. Racing at top speed on autopilot feeling nothing would certainly get me to where I wanted to be but in doing so I would end up a crazed wreck on prescription drugs and using alcohol as a crutch.
I knew I had to live and breathe the experiences that lay ahead. I knew I had to feel the pain, getting down and dirty with it. Embrace it, not run away and hide from it. In all its ugliness I knew I had to get to rock bottom immersing myself in it, the fear, the pain, the grief, if I was to come out whole the other side. Sometimes I was able to do it and at others I struggled and raged against it. Sometimes simply acknowledging that times were shit was all I needed to do.
So, I ran a marathon, that’s my metaphor for the past few years of my life. Now that I’m in my new home, a home that is mine, a home for me and my children and for those whom I invite in. My marathon is finished, I have crossed the finishing line. ‘Lactic acid’ has been flooding into my muscles, it causes pain and exhaustion and the only real way to recover as any athlete will tell you is with oxygen…. It took my sports mad coach friend to say to me ‘Rebecca, just breathe. Take in lungs full of revitalising oxygen.’
So how often do we stop to breath? Slow down? What if we gazed out of the window waiting for the tea to brew rather than unloading or reloading the dishwasher/washing machine? How long would that take? 5 minutes?
Could you find 5 minutes in order to refocus? Would that be a 5 minutes well spent?
I met someone recently. He’s showing me how to slow down. It feels very good. He walks slowly. He stops to remark on a detail on a building or notices a flower. He talks slowly and pauses. He listens. Silences with him are good and comfortable. I feel my heart rate slowing down. This is good.
In the words of Gandhi, there is certainly more to life than increasing its speed. I’m wondering what we all might achieve if we slowed down a little, took an hour off. Be rebellious…take a day off.
What are you prepared to let go of today in order to slow your pace?
What would it feel like?
How different would your life be? It need begin simply with 5 minutes allowing the tea to brew…..
photo credit : Stephen Cotterell