When I was initially diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2003 I was so busy living life – taking care of two young boys and building my career. I see now, after my metastatic diagnosis 11 years later, that I got caught in the busyness of life. I thought I was living a good life – after all my sons were thriving, learning, and growing, my marriage was good, my career was a success, the responsibilities and the money increased, international travel became a normal thing - I was enjoying it all.
What I wasn’t doing was consciously, intentionally choosing what I was doing and how I was living. It was the American dream – the house, the kids, the career, the achievements. Only now do I realize that a slower, more intentional life is what really matters. We really need to change that…not have the “American dream” be the aspiration, or change what it means! More is not better. Busy is not the badge of honor it has become.
“What you seek is seeking you” ~ Rumi
A slower, more conscious life is what I believe we should all be seeking. Life is about love and connection. Love of self, love of others, connection with nature, and a higher power. That is what gives our lives meaning, and we typically find that when we slow down. When we take time to get quiet and to contemplate our lives, our gifts, and the meaning we seek we find the “more” we were after. Seeking more from an external source is what causes us to feel overwhelmed, to be constantly on the go, to do so much, and to always respond when asked “how are you?,” that we are “so busy”. When we look within, then we find what we are seeking, our gifts become clear to us, external validation is no longer necessary, and we can connect with ourselves and a higher power to find all the love, joy, and fulfillment that matters.
“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you
~ John De Paola
We must have the courage to stop! Take the time to just be. This has become a more talked about concept with all the new spiritual teachers and practices that have become more popular in recent years, and it is advice we all need to heed. Just stop! Take time for yourself. Start with one day…turn off all the things, your electronics, your mind, your to do list. They will all be there when you return, social media can live without you for one day…and you without it. Unplug for the day and enjoy just being. Give up multi-tasking for the day. Do only one thing at a time and be conscious as you do it.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Perhaps you can sit outside and watch the clouds drift overhead, or watch a bee nuzzle the roses, or the frogs sitting in the pond. Learn from the frogs, they know how to just be. If you don’t have roses or frogs, find your own way to be enraptured by nature or some other slow and quiet endeavor.
When it’s time to eat, be intentional. Fix yourself a healthy meal, eat it slowly, think about where it came from and how it will serve your body, eat mindfully. Enjoy every bite. If you are eating with others, ask them to do the same and engage in conversation, enjoy each other’s company.
Spend an entire day being quiet, mindful, introspective, reflective. Write in your journal, reflect on your gratitude. Find yourself. Get to know your inner self. Be gentle. Be kind. Explore how it feels to be kind and loving to yourself. Learn what really makes you happy.
If you struggle with sitting still and paying attention to yourself perhaps a creative endeavor can help you find the quiet, still part within. Paint (paint-by-numbers counts), draw, doodle, color (adult coloring books & pages), write, dance, play music, make music, listen to music, whatever your soul loves.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.
Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
Check in with your soul on this unplugged day, and then everyday hereafter to find out what it needs and wants. Add more unplugged days as you are able. If you work or have a family, do your best to schedule at least one unplugged day a month. You will likely find that your soul begins to crave them and that your life will feel so much more fulfilled and so much less overwhelming.
In peace, love and health,