The pace of our lives can often feel overwhelming, yet we get used to functioning at a certain pace. A fast pace.
Recently, I left my urban day-to-day to visit my family in their cruisey beach town. Upon pulling in, I stopped to get a coffee…naturally. And what did I find? I found sloooowww drip coffee. C’mon C’mon C’mon, What’s taking so long?
That’s how my inner monologue went. Maybe they’re new, I thought. Maybe if I stand closer they’ll be inspired to speed the frozen molasses up a bit, I bargained. What came next was a string of really slow and, yeah, annoying folks moving at a speed my nervous system didn’t recognize. At All.
Didn’t they all know they were going to die one day, maybe soon?
Now, I practice yoga. I practice it in meditation form, pranayama form, asana form–well, take the eight limbs and those are my guideposts. My guideposts for conscious living. However, the speed of life is quite intoxicating and addicting. The adrenals pump out these hormones that make the ego feel validated for being here and taking up quite a bit of space. The mind gets so congested that I don’t have to pause and feel…well, I don’t have to pause and feel anything.
Except: busy. Busy is how I tend to feel. “How are you?” someone asks. What’s my habitual response? “Busy.”
Funnily enough, I was on my way to a retreat when I stopped in to see my family in the slloooowwww beachy town. After I left them and arrived at the retreat center, a big smile crossed my awareness. Ah, yes, these small town folks were not necessarily slow. I was just busy. Fast and busy, with my body, mind, and internal systems struggling to keep pace.
As I allowed myself to arrive into this sacred space which was sacred because it was just that—space—I met myself again. A breath exchange came into my awareness and that felt like enough. With my feet on the ground, I could feel: space, enoughness, the earth underneath me.
An unfurling of the forces of “busy” began. It didn’t take much except the choice to come, to step out of the current of doing, to step toward a place that cultivates an opening of the aperture to what’s naturally unfolding within.
Usually we think of it as a retreat from–from busyness, from speed and spin, from the noise that we rely on to keep us from feeling too much. But what if we think of it instead as a retreat to?
These things are with us always, even though sometimes we have to step away to remember them.
If we’re really blessed, it’s also a retreat to someplace of natural beauty, a place that can inspire awe by reminding us of our connection to the sacred and the natural world. While it isn’t absolutely essential to have natural splendor, wild coastlines, or a blanket of stars to retreat to–it doesn’t hurt, either.
The natural world can shock us back into our senses and reopen the connection to the world around us that gets invisibly closed off when we move fast or feel full up with work life, city life, relating life, parenting life. Natural beauty reopens our connection to the world. We can watch some of the filters fall away as we relax into the air around us, watch ourselves breathe it in, watch ourselves breathe it out.
Is it possible to experience this sense of spaciousness, to remember to slow it down and take it all in in the midst of the daily shuffle, the duties, the various ways we check out? I hope so.
I have even experienced it. Yet I must say, a moment to step away–to retreat to the natural world and also to our own nature–can help reset the busy button. It can calm a nervous system down enough to make clearer choices when we return to all that awaits us outside the natural hot springs, the meditation room, the consciously prepared food, the yoga hall.
Featured Photo Cred: Pluggzblog.com