Living at the Speed of Life
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let’s face it—we live in a world where everything seems to be moving fast. It can all start to pass us by in a bit of a blur. How often do we say or hear, “where did the week go” or “oh my gosh it’s October already. What happened?”
Life in the ‘Giant Particle Accelerator’ of Our Culture
We feel like this perhaps, not because time is actually moving faster but because we are. Our way of living on this planet has gradually sped up over the years and crept up on most of us.
As author Carl Honoré says, “Urban life itself seems to act like a giant particle accelerator. Especially when people move to the city, they start to do everything faster.” As a result of this increasing speed, many of us are feeling either constantly stressed, deeply tired or a combination of the two.
The Lesson of Natural (Real) World
I’m certainly not immune to getting caught up in the increasing speed of modern life. This is part of the reason why connecting with nature has grown more and more important to me over the years.
Whether it’s taking time to walk in the woods, watching a caterpillar crawling along a branch, sitting quietly to watch a sunrise or just laying on my back in the grass to witness the slow movement of the clouds across the sky—moments in nature reconnect my heart, body and mind with the true rhythm of life. The rhythm and speed in which my biology was designed to move. Slower.
Reclaiming Our Tranquility, Wisdom and Presence
As I observe the natural world I see that nature is unhurried, patient and unruffled by what the rest of the world is doing. As I move into step with her again I connect with a sense of integrity to my true nature. I feel my body relax, my mind clear and my heart open.
The great benefit of slowing down to her pace is reclaiming my wisdom, tranquility and presence. I remember what matters most in life. I find myself more able to make meaningful connections—with people, with community, with work, with myself and the world.
The Real Reasons Why We’re Rushing
Sometimes we do need to rush. Maybe you need to get to an appointment on time, or you have an important deadline to get done by the end of the day, but much of the time, you don’t really need to.
We often rush because of unhelpful internal pressures (like perfectionistic standards for ourselves) or because the external forces around us (like the expectations of others or the culture) make us feel under pressure to keep up.
And sometimes we just get caught up in the momentum of the world rather than us ourselves deciding how much we want to do and at what pace.
Moving at the Speed of Sanity, Wisdom and Happiness.
If you’re feeling tired, depleted and stressed on a regular basis, how about stepping aside from the rush as much as you possible and into your own authenticity, sanity and wellbeing?
For starters, simply start to be mindful of when you’re rushing. Notice when you start to get revved up and stressed. Notice the internal stories that speed you up and stress you out. Investigate the validity of those stories and whether they lead to greater happiness and wellbeing or not.
Secondly, when others place pressure on you, see if you can take a pause to think about it before agreeing or committing to things that cause you to rush and race around.
Also be aware of how the mind regularly gets caught up in rushing—in making plans that cause us to strive and struggle and push ourselves. Try to catch this happening at the level of thought before it gets a grip on you.
Finding a Place of Rest in the Middle of It All
Most importantly, try to make time to rest in the aliveness and richness of the present moment. Give yourself permission to enjoy times of relaxation where there’s no need to rush or get anywhere else. Just let yourself be.
If you can, take some time to reconnect with nature, let her teach you patience, presence and the joy of slowing down. Let her remind you how to live at the true speed of life.
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