Sunday, November 9, 2008

Frank's Sunday Service. Slowing Down & Learning to Pause

I'm not a Buddhist, but I'm familiar with the Buddhist concept of contemplation and truly being in a moment. Like many others, it can hard for me to stop or at least slow down long enough to take in the stimuli around us all the time. But it seems that reacting without pause takes more time & creates more stress in the long run, leaving us bewildered & emotionally & spiritually toxic.

As a blogger & blog reader it's very easy to read or write posts & find myself immediately reacting to something that arouses my wrath. A good example this week would be my getting annoyed at two blogs I enjoy but have to take breaks from on a regular basis. This week was a take a break week as I read post after post or comment after comment on both blogs that discussed Prop 8 and the supposed black vote that passed it. As a queer woman of color I found myself feeling defensive reading both blogs, one with a queer focus, one with a racial focus. The defensiveness came from the racism & or homophobia that dripped (or gushed at moments) from the blogs & I knew it was time for that break.

The break continues to be needed. I find myself needing to turn away from the heartless chatter & listen intently to my own body going over any potential discomfort. Shoulders tight? Check. Somewhat tired? Check. Bowels irregular? Check. When I stopped and listened to my body, my inner voice was there too, reminding me that without health, I have little to offer at this time and getting my body on track is foremost.

Riding into work today on the bus a man was running to catch it. He crossed the street but ran in front of the vehicle forcing the driver to stop suddenly so the running man would not be plowed over. The driver let the man on the bus anyway but the customer was huffy when the driver mentioned it was dangerous to run in front of a bus like that. An argument ensued and the driver had to suddenly stop again, this time to kick the now swearing & yelling customer off. The whole thing was jarring as mass transit drama can be, but even more, was that if that customer hadn't been in such a hurry to begin with, perhaps the whole debacle could have been avoided and there could have been far fewer bad "vibes" put out for all who witnessed this.

Author Richard Carlson wrote a book called Slowing Down to the Speed of Life. He explains the six reasons why it's critical to slow down:
  • Reduction of stress
  • Improved physical health
  • More present, intimate, and loving relationships
  • Heightened sensory awareness and enjoyment of the natural beauty around us
  • Greater peace of mind and serenity
  • Dramatically improved ability to be productive and creative and to stay focused

If it's true as Mr. Carlson said that "The truth is, our thinking will always create the reality we perceive" then it is a good idea in my mind to slow down enough to know just what it is I am thinking. If I think "wow so-n-so said this or that so he's a real asshole" then I'm thinking in a negative way, therefore my judgements are negative. If I instead think "wow so-n-so said this and it's effecting me" I'm taking the time to connect to myself and not judge this person. I can have a feeling about what was said without assuming to know who or how this person is.

Taking the time to pause & know what our feelings really are certainly takes the dramatic zip out of a given argument or discomfort, but in the end, we connect more deeply to our hearts & hopefully one another. Just like anything, pausing is a practice that we will most likely do imperfectly till the day we leave this earth, but we can keep trying for the sake of ourselves and our future.


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