Are you rushing through life instead of living each moment in the here and now? Are you imagining that there’s something better at the end of the tunnel, at the end of all of that rushing?
I have done that too many times to count. For example, I will be doing my yoga practice, and instead of actually paying attention to what’s going on in my practice, my mind will be a million miles away, thinking about my to-do list.
Even now, as I write this post, no matter how much I try to concentrate and focus entirely on the clicking of the keyboard keys, and the words that swirl in my mind, I feel my mind wandering and thinking, planning and dreaming.
Is this really necessary? Why do I do this to myself?
The First Problem Is That Rushing Through Life Causes Mistakes
There are many problems that rushing through life causes, one of the primary ones being that when you rush through something, you are not paying enough attention, causing you to make silly mistakes.
If it’s something as simple as wrapping a gift, then a mistake doesn’t matter as much. You will end up doing a shoddy job of wrapping the present for your grandmother, but she has bad eyes, so she won’t notice anyways. Phew!
But what if it’s something more important. Something that your livelihood depends on, something that your life depends upon, or the lives of other people.
What if you are rushing through writing a report or article for work? What if you are rushing through fixing your child’s hair and ignoring them in the process? What if you are rushing through the intersection, not noticing that car rushing through life at you?
You might think that rushing through life will make you get places, it will make you more successful because you will end up doing or accomplishing more, but the opposite is, in fact, true.
When you rush through life, you do a mediocre or even shoddy job of life. Life only rewards you when you pay attention and do an excellent job of living it. Life only rewards the people who focus their attention on the ‘real’ now and the ‘real’ here.
If you are working hard, rushing through life, and not able to gain any benefits or rewards from it, if you are not successful even though you rush, rush, rush, then maybe rethink the whole process of rushing through life.
Stop. Breathe. Stop again. Breathe. What’s going on here? What should you be paying attention to? What’s going on here?
The Second Problem Is That You Forget To Live Until It’s Too Late
Okay, so you might be reading this article right now, but is your mind really here? Is your mind wandering or switching back and forth from another thought, another place, another situation, to your reading, quickly?
When we rush through life, we don’t live life.
When we rush through life, we ignore life.
We forget life. We forget living. We forget the important stuff.Boom Shikha
When you are rushing through life, you might imagine that getting more done, means that you are living life to the max, but the opposite is true. You are actually missing out on the real essence of life. You never go deep into life.
You tread the superficiality of life, not realizing that there is something to go deeper to.
My Harry Potter Book Reading Experience
You might have noticed this. When you rush through a book, you might miss the nuances of the book. I read Harry Potter for the first time years and years ago, but I was young back then, and naive, and foolish.
I rushed through the book, partly because it was so good and I wanted to see what happens in the end, and partly because I wanted to get to something else.
I re-read all the 7 books recently, but I wasn’t rushing. I slowed down and savoured the book, as if it were an expensive piece of chocolate, decadent, and luxurious. It was as if I only had that one piece of chocolate, and it was the last piece in the world, and I wanted to savour it to death.
When I read through the books this time, I found that I had missed many (!) nuances, deeper meanings, and tidbits that I caught this time because I was reading slowly and not rushing through it. It was delightful and delighting.
I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to get so deep into the novel.
I feel like I am truly living when I slow down and experience things to their core.
I am not ignoring life for superficial gains, until its too late, until I am sitting at my death bed or in a retirement home, realizing I actually missed my entire life, that I don’t remember anything, that nothing held my attention for long enough to become interesting.
The Third Problem Is That Rushing Through Life Makes Simple Things Seem Boring
This might be surprising to you, but slowing down actually makes things quite interesting.
Have you ever watched a baby enjoy a piece of fruit? The parents might place a couple of goldfish crackers in front of it, or a sliver of a melon, and the baby, delighted, will suck and savour the cracker or fruit, as if it were an elaborate meal. Taking hours to eat the whole thing, the baby really gets into the essence of the meal.
Babies are never bored. Even though they move slowly, and never rush, they never seem to tire of looking at the same thing over and over again, discovering new nuances, colors, lights, and delights.
They will look at the same toy or the same stars pasted on the ceiling above, for months on end, and still giggle profusely at its beauty and internal workings.
Adults Get Bored So Easily – We Demand Life Entertain Us
But adults, you and I, we get bored easily, don’t we? That happens because we are rushing through everything, and not getting into anything deep enough to notice its beauty and glory.
When you slow down, at first, you might be afraid that you are going to die of boredom. If you stick with this, and ignore the ego’s cries for something more interesting, you will be able to slip deeper into life, into whatever it is you are focused on.
That’s why they say that if you contemplate a single rose for long enough, you would be able to se the entire universe in it.
Everything is complicated and beautiful if you go deep enough into it.
A meditation that’s suggested often is to sit with a rose flower or a leaf, and study it intensely, for minutes or hours on end. Your mind might get bored, but if you are able to stick with it, you could even see the gates of enlightenment.
Meditation or Mindfulness Practice Helps Us Stay in the Present Moment
It seems like the solution to a lot of life’s problems are meditation, doesn’t it?
The antidote to all of the problems created by rushing through life is slowing down. Slow down. Slow down everything.
As I type this article, I slow down. I breathe softly and slowly. I type softly and carefully. I glance at the screen mildly and quietly.
Sometimes, my mind starts whirring again and says things like, “Oh but this is so boring. And you are not getting much done. It would be better if you were able to multitask. Maybe you should plan out the rest of your day at the same time as writing this article. Think of how productive you would be. Or maybe think about that delicious breakfast you cooked. You are so smart, aren’t you? I think you should think a bit about how you are going to be so successful in the future, and then you will…”
My practice allows me to stop the tirade of madness. I slow down again. My mind resists and quickens up again. I slow it down again. The cycle continues.
What if Your Mind Doesn’t Stay Quiet?
Am I a failure because my mind won’t stay quiet? No, indeed.
That’s how it is. For an amateur meditator like me, the possibility of coming back repeatedly is good enough. Actually, it’s better than good enough. Most people aren’t even able to do that.
Every step towards slowing down, and being in the present moment, being here and now, is a momentous gain.Boom Shikha
Don’t worry. You don’t need to be perfect at this. As long as you are able to pull yourself back, it’s perfect.
Another thing meditation helps with is with slowing down the body, the breath, the mind, and the subconscious chatter.
You walk slower. You breathe softer. Your footfall lightens up. Your environmental footprint eases up. Your voice quietens. Your internal chatter subsides.
Everything goes deeper. Meditation casts the spell, “Superficiality begone.”
Meditation Kills the Demon That Is Rushing Through Life
If you don’t already have a meditation practice, start one. If you have one, keep going. Even if it feels like you aren’t making any progress, you are. It took me more than 12 years to get to this point of my meditation practice. You will get there. Just stay steady on.
Many people message me saying that they worry that they aren’t making any progress, even though they have been meditating for months or weeks now. I laugh a bit on the inside, because I know that even monks who meditate 18 hours a day for years on ened, still have trouble taming their minds.
Time will cure all.
But also, taking your meditation off the mat, off the cushion, and into your life. Notice yourself through your day. When you start rushing through life, stop, breathe, and slow down. Do this over again until you can automatically stop, breathe, and slow down.
I am still terrible at this. I’m better than I was a year ago, but I’m still not good at it.
I brush my teeth in the morning, trying to slow down, but my mind whirs faster and faster with all of the things that I am excited to do during the day. Whirring faster and faster, I beg my mind to stop, to slow down, to pay attention to the swishing of the bamboo toothbrush bristles across my teeth.
It doesn’t listen sometimes. Some days, it’s hard to slow down my mind. Other days, it’s almost too easy.
I take each day in stride. I take each week in stride.
I’m never going to be perfect at this. I’m never going to arrive.
But I can keep on trying. As can you.
There Isn’t Any Prize for Rushing Through This Life
There are no prizes gained or trophies won for rushing through life. The real gains are made when we slow down and experience life fully. Here. Now. Here. Now.
As Dan Millman said in his book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, “Dan, what time is it? The time is now, Soc. Where are you, Dan? I’m here, Soc.” (I highly recommend this book to all spiritual warriors).
The time is now. The only place is here.
Be here now.
Don’t rush off in your head, or in the physical world.
Comment below to share with us your thoughts on the article and on slowing down. Is it easy for you? Difficult?