How do I balance that driving desire to share, to contribute, to accomplish, to do, with an equally or perhaps even deeper need to simply be? To just stop! And be. To live my life with a constant, underlying sense of ease, contentment and joy?
In examining all this, I had to admit that joy, contentment and ease were definitely not the three best descriptors of my current inner landscape.
How about you? Are these qualities — joy, contentment, ease — ones you experience on a daily basis? Or would “time-pressured, stressed, overwhelmed” be more accurate? And is there really a solution, or is the world just so out of balance that the most we can hope for is to just try to keep our heads above water?
Despite the breadth and depth of the challenges we all face — personally and collectively — I wholeheartedly maintain there are solutions! Within easy reach.
I was talking with a dear friend the other day, and made some comment about her being of service in the world. She replied with great emotion, “I’m tired of being of service!”
Ironically, when we speak of “being of service,” we’re usually referring to an act of doing. And no matter how loving or noble the intention, when the “doing” of our service is out of balance with our even deeper physiological and psycho-spiritual need to just simply be — to rest, renew, reflect, recharge — we’re headed for trouble. And when out of balance, are we really even being of the highest service?
We live in a world of almost constant doing. For many of us, every day has become yet another beeline drive to check off as many things on the “to-do” list as possible, to meet yet another deadline. To do our best to keep up with all the immediate and backlogged chores at home. Family issues. Friends’ needs. The bombardment of news, social media, tweets … the list is literally endless.
“What’s it all about, Alfie?!”
The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates. This axiom pops up periodically in my consciousness (as does the line from the “Alfie” song; I know, I’m dating myself!) Both serve to remind me how essential it is to make time — to consciously choose to make it a priority — to step off the treadmill and “examine” my life. Why am I doing everything I’m doing? What are the underlying values and beliefs that are running my show? What old mental programs or habits might be steering my course? Is it time to reposition the rudder, to make subtle or bold adjustments in my inner beliefs and outer circumstances?
Oftentimes, we are just so busy that we don’t afford ourselves this kind of meditative reflection. Yet, it need not take years on a mountaintop, or even a week at a monastery. I find if I can build in moments — literally moments — on a regular basis to go within, to relax my body, release my emotions and still my ever-chattering mind, that it makes a HUGE difference in literally everything else I do.
In ten minutes of stillness, overwhelm melts into manageable present-moment awareness. Deeper awareness of my body prompts wiser choices — like eating, stretching, moving, sleeping(!) — all of which sometimes get sacrificed if I’m too outwardly driven and not in touch enough to notice my body’s basic needs.
In silence, emotional reactions dissipate (sometimes more easily than others!), and I often realize what’s really going on in there — past the knee-jerk reaction that’s dominated my emotional landscape, at times for far too long.
And the thoughts … ah, the incessant thoughts can be witnessed, and gently released. And released again. And released again … until the spaces between the thoughts become like breaths of fresh air. I rest there, letting go, just for now, of past and future, and recharging my entire being in the grace of the eternal present moment…
And, amazingly, after even just a brief respite, I find the to-do list seems more manageable, the demands less crushingly immediate and the woes of the world more hopeful.
I’ve answered my soul’s longing to come home. Do you know that feeling? I believe it’s a universal human condition.
“Spiritual yearning is the homesickness of the soul.” — Ma Jaya
So let your soul come home. Even if only for moments during your busy day.
As we create peace in ourselves, we create peace in our world.
P.S. For information about my upcoming Self-Renewal Retreat at The Healing Sanctuary, JULY 29–31, click here.