Finding peace in the pace of Life
Colleague A – “By when does this need to be submitted?”
Colleague B – “Yesterday!”
Sound familiar? I am sure there are a lot of heads bobbing in agreement. Makes one wonder (if we have the time to!) how do we accomplish it all? Inevitably, we quicken the pace at the cost of not looking at how we are going, just that we need to get ‘there’ really fast.
It’s funny that in getting to our destinations of more money, more prestige, more knowledge – we spend more time sitting down than doing anything else. Verbs imply action yet many of us lack the time to get in proper exercise, which is the very thing that is contributing to the multitude of health issues today. How many times have we found ourselves telling people that yes we could go to the gym but only if we had the time to! Even then, do we stop to ask ourselves how I’m getting to that yesterday deadline?
What a Catch-22 situation we have found ourselves in. Is this the strange pursuit of happiness?
It needn’t all be an exercise in futility though. There is hope. One of the greatest gifts Yoga has given me and continues to; as this is a constant process (if you are not in a Himalayan cave) was the slowing down of all the clutter and traffic in my mind. How? Gradual concentration – I say gradual because I do know a myriad of thoughts can go on even when we are meant to be concentrating in a pose like Virbhadrasana 2 or even during Savasana. A certain degree of stillness in our mind is required to effectively reap the benefits of balancing poses like half moon, eagle or tree pose. Through our constant ‘tapasya’, we learn to achieve this level of concentration.
The practice of yoga has also made me slow down my need for instant gratification, which is something, that is thrown at us everyday. Hence, the best titles for marketing anything today is “14 days to a slimmer you”, “Learn XX in 7 days” or “Instant xx Lift”. Does all this really guarantee our happiness though? One must slow down to reflect.
As a Yogi, stepping into my yoga space mentally as well as physically has the effect of making me still in thought and action. Ironically, I have also been given this reason for why people choose this as the reason why yoga is not their thing. Sometimes it is really difficult to move from 120 mph to 0 mph!
Interestingly, it is that instant gratification that forces us to take stock in slowing down during our yoga practice. We often want to push ourselves to reach the greatest levels of flexibility and strength without the patience of learning how to master it. When you are not ready for an advanced pose your body will tell you when you feel that screeching burn of an injury. Injuries take you at least 5 steps back from where you were pre-injury. So, an injury will slow you down even further till it gets healed.
Yoga has never been about the perfect pose. Most of the time, at the start of a class I will humorously remind people to notice their competitive nature for what it is by stating no one is going to get a medal at the end of the session! Yoga has always been about showing up on the mat – day after day even on the days you don’t feel like, especially on the days you don’t feel like it.
I have seen many people in a yoga class struggle to keep away their mobiles. I can totally understand the tendency to keep checking the phone or putting it away for that hour, as I am part of this process too. Can you imagine how uncommunicative we would become in our face-to-face interactions if we let this go on unchecked?
A friend shared her recent experience where she per force had to keep her phone away on holiday due to network issues, only to realize that plugging out helped her connect with her inner self. It is there you feel so much peace of mind, isn’t it? We tend to interact more with people with us when our phone does not distract us. It would be a wonderful thing to practice switching off when we are back to our normal routine. Let’s start on our quest for peace by taking baby steps because peace is not found running away from life.
A very simple method I find effective to slow down in my daily life is to wake up early. Not rushing to work but treating yourself to a good breakfast and perhaps some good self-growth reading. When this becomes part of your routine then you can motivate yourself to put in perhaps 5 minutes of pranayama and 5 minutes of meditation. So, all you would need to do is wake up 15 minutes earlier than your usual time. I’m not saying you will be able to accomplish this all the time but even a good start will make you reap the benefits.
To paraphrase a famous quote – Yoga isn’t about how low you can go in a pose but what you learn about yourself on the way down. This isn’t to say that there is anything bad about a faster pace of life. We can’t become hermits whilst society is moving in to the future in whichever pace that may be. The key would be to finding balance and find what works for you. If like most of the general population, one is unhealthy and unhappy due to lack of exercise or constantly stressed then yes, one should slow down to reflect.
“Happiness is a reality of NOW, it’s not something that you pursue in the future. Don’t pursue happiness, but EXUDE happiness.” ― Farshad Asl
A quote to reflect on, isn’t it? After all, yoga and meditation teach us to value the present moment and for that you have to “slow your pace, find your peace.”