Arts & Crafts Magazine

Thoughts on Slowing Down...

By Laharris1
thoughts on slowing down...
This is a true story. 
It happened in the Washington DC Metro Station in 2007.
A man was sitting amid the fast-moving crowds in the station, playing his violin. During the time he was playing approximately 2000 people went through the station, unaware that this man was actually Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world, filling the air with six glorious and intricate Bach pieces on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Although people typically paid hundreds of dollars for a seat inside a theater to listen to this man, on this day he was incognito, part of a Washington Post social experiment to find out how we experience everyday beauty in our lives.
This is what happened. During the forty-five minutes that Joshua Bell played his violin only six people stopped to listen. 
Several children were drawn to the musician, but were quickly pulled away by their parents.
And afterward it raised an important question.
If we don't have 
a moment 
to stop and listen 
to one of the most gifted musicians in the world ....
How much do we miss when we’re rushing from one place to another?
How much everyday beautydo you actually ’see’?
Would you have been one of those six people who witnessed something so startlingly unique and beautiful in the middle of a chaotic morning that you stopped what you were doing to enjoy it?
I'm just asking.
Because the truth is, I am both; I am one of those six people who walks around with open eyes and is willing to stop and relish spontaneous moments of beauty in my surroundings.
But I'm also one of those hurried bodies running toward a place I need to be, completely distracted by my latest list of things to do playing out in my head.
I am both of these people.
I know what it's like to be fully awake and connected to my body, to lay with my forehead pressed into my yoga mat, and with my eyes closed, surrender to the slow, synchronized rhythms of my breath so that for a few mere moments, there is nothing else that in the universe except the sound of Prana-life's energy flowing in my ears.
I'm here for my sadness. My worries. My excitement. My dreams.
I feel the changing seasons on my skin.
And I know my age.
Yet I also know what it’s like when I'm simply going through the motions. When my body is one place but my mind is somewhere else, rapidly flitting from one thing to another, planning, worrying, regretting, Googling, and scheduling. 
I know what it's like to be driving in my car, so deep in thought that I suddenly shake my head and realize there are entire swaths of streets, brightly colored signs, and tanned people in swim suits riding bikes on the sidewalk, that I had passed without truly seeing.
Buddhists refer to these times as a kind of disembodied living; it's when we cease to be fully present in our body because we're swept away by our cluttered, roving mind.
Instead of being fully awake in The Present Moment –aware, with all our senses--- there is an incessant dialog going on in our heads where we're figuring things out. Maybe we're stuck in the past (regretting, re-grieving, re-living) or in the future (worrying and planning the things that might happen). But to the degree that our minds are moving 100 miles an hour, we’re not fully in our bodies. We’re not really present for the only life we have, which is happening right now.
Hmm…when did we glorify multi-tasking?
Do you remember?
I’m just wondering.
The other day I heard an interesting discussion on mindfulness, specifically about the connection between the hours we spend in front of our screens---and the subsequent disconnection that happens between us and our bodies.
And it got me thinking about this question.
How in touch with your body are you, when you're sitting in front of a screen for an average of 7.4 hours a day?  
Because that’s how much time the average American adult spends in front of their TVs, cellphones, computers and tablet screens on a given day.It’s a powerful realization if you view “screen time” the way a Buddhist would, as a kind of virtual reality that pulls us away from our inner lives.
The point isn't to demonize our screen time but to understand the quiet ways we can begin to lose touch with our physical body.
 It’s easy to forget that our Body is the precious container of all our real-life experiences, our dreams, our empathy and our most tender needs, because we live in a culture that relentlessly objectifies the Body.A Body is a ‘thing’ to be admired, physically manipulated, posed, re-shaped and cosmetically altered, all of which leads us to a strange distortion.
Slowly, we begin to view our Body through the eyes of others. We look in the mirror and with a harshness we wouldn’t direct at a friend, we judge our Body. We zero in on our parts and we dissect our flaws like a methodical scientist gazing through a microscope. And in this process we become tragically disconnected from the truth that: My Body Is Me. 
All of which makes it easier to forget to take care of our Body, and mistreat it with crazy diets and poor sleep habits and a sped-up mind that gets further distracted by the many screens in our lives.
Keeping a healthy mind/body connection
During the years I worked in the eating disorder field I used to hear a certain kind of suffering emerge in the session room; it was different from the fixations about one’s weight and appearance, although those were certainly the initial focus.
But over time I heard a more pervasive suffering that happened when a person slowed down and began the process of looking inward. It was the kind of suffering that happens when you feel painfully disconnected from your deeper Self. When you’re saddled with a nagging, empty sensation of not knowing, Who-Am-I-When-I’m-Not-Being-All-These-Things-For-Other-People?What are my own opinions? What are my authentic feelings and needs?
It’s hard to know what comes first—do we seek our self-worth and identity through our physical body and beauty because we are lacking self-knowledge and substance?
Or do we sacrifice with our inner development when we become over-focused on our exterior body image?
Maybe the answer is simply about finding a healthy balance.
The good news is that it’s never too late to reconnect with the wisdom of our bodies.
I know this from my experiences inside the session room.
I remember all those times when I would ask a simple question like,
"How are you feeling right now?”
And this question would elicit a blank stare. And a long, pause, thick with self-consciousness and then usually the body would answer me. It would react with a trembling lip. A rapidly shaking foot, or a single tear running down the cheek.
So often this was the way inside, the path to discovering words and feelings that felt inaccessible to the person in front of me. I actually remember my mentor, a gifted psychoanalyst gently nudging an anorexic during a group session, 
“So tell me, what is your shaking foot trying to tell me?”
And she had smiled and looked confused but the exploration began through this appearance of a body cue. I’ve always thought that this is the real beauty of the Body, it cannot tell a lie. Over and over again I witnessed this truth; what the Mind/Heart does not know or can't express with words, the Body will seek to express –through whatever pathway that's available. For someone who disavows their emotions and looks "fine" on the outside, the only expression of their pain might be in those frenzied binges and relieving purges in the bathroom.
It's as if our Body is calling us back home.
Find out what’s really happening inside you, the Body is saying. Honesty will heal you. Connect with your inner life to make sense of things… because you deserve to feel wholeness and peace.
thoughts on slowing down...
 Favorite ways to slow myself down
Get out into Nature.Keep a journal. Practice Mindfulness Practice Yoga.Make time for solitudeDo something creative
can you relate to this post?
xoLeslie

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