Life in the Fast Lane-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

 

Saturday afternoon as I padded around the little cabin in my bathrobe, a leftover cheddar smokie drizzled with mustard and rolled up in a napkin in one hand and a Krispy Creme donut in the other I felt content. I unabashedly slept in, waking to roll over, stretch out and sleep again on repeat. It seemed like it had been forever since I had been able to do that and I wasn’t going to ruin it by feeling guilty. I happily had no responsibilities except to relax.

I had gone to visit my husband out of town and meet his work crew. He convinced me to stay an extra night but in the interim I had a whole day to myself to do as I wished. I was in the middle of nowhere so there wasn’t a whole lot to fill my time so I decided to just slow down and enjoy the quiet.

I was watching a Ted Talk with Carl Honoré about his bestselling book In Praise of Slow, about the slow movement. Carl explores the idea that if we actually slow down, in our speed obsessed society, we can actually accomplish more, be happier and create greater success.

Our culture of speed takes a toll on every aspect of our lives; living in the fast lane is damaging to our health, our diets, our well being, our communities and our relationships.  When we live our lives in fast forward, we are missing some of the most important things.

“Everybody these days wants to know how to slow down, but they want to know how to learn to slow down very quickly!” ~Carl Honoré

In the last couple of years since I started the W.I.S.E. Project one of my greatest challenges and desires was to be more mindful and learn to live in the moment. My entire life needed a complete overhaul to learn to live in the present moment instead of speeding through to the next. I learned that I wasn’t really connecting to myself and to the world around me, I was literally racing against time to accomplish everything I could possibly get done in a day. It made me ill, unhappy and detached. I longed to have deeper, richer and stronger relationships and wanted to take an active role in my own well being and pursue activities that I was passionate about but the truth was that I didn’t have time. To be clearer, and more honest; I didn’t make time and I equated a great deal of my self worth with how much I could do and how much I could achieve in a short amount of time.

The message of ‘less is more’ has many meanings and can seep into several areas of our lives. We collect things, more and more things that don’t matter; that clutter our lives and fill voids. We subscribe to the notion that time is money and we race against the clock, busying our lives and barely taking the time to just breath.

I do believe it is possible to slow down but it is an undertaking that requires careful thought and an honest desire for change.

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Personally, one of my greatest tools in my battle against time and practicing mindfulness has been meditation. A daily meditation practice has allowed me to achieve something that I have always longed for; a strong and resilient mind among the chaos that is my life. I have discovered the luxuriousness that is silence and I crave more and more quiet and unhurried moments to ease my burdens and feed my soul.

Being still can seem strange at first. Most of us run on autopilot and we are trained to constantly be doing. For me, I often have to overcome the guilt that I should be doing something. Slowing down is healthy, silence is golden.

The World Health Organization has identified noise pollution as a global health hazard affecting both developing and developed nations. The impact includes hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, mental-health effects, hypertension and increased blood pressure. People surrounded by noise are often in constant states of stress, which can degrade their immune systems.

Slowing down and taking the time to embrace a quitter and yet more fulfilling existence is a healthy escape from the everyday that can be life changing for you and your loved ones.

Do you think your life could benefit from learning to slow down?

How do you find moments of calm in your busy life?

What do you value above all else in your life?

 

Enemy at the gates-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

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It feels like I have been absent here for awhile and honestly I have.  With the political climate the way that it currently is; coupled with the unfortunate divide it is causing, it has consumed a great deal of my head space, enough that I felt that it best to not write anything that would come across the wrong way. I never wanted this to be a political space, but I have always intended it for a place for me to be honest and open and share my experiences.

The reason I blog, especially with The W.I.S.E. project is that it keeps me accountable to living mindfully, being gracious and taking opportunities to create joy in my life. Whether one person or 50 read a post I am still accountable to myself to practice what I preach.

I did say at the first of the month that the W.I.S.E. principles that I wanted to incorporate were wisdom, integrity, sincerity and empathy. There could not be a better time in our lives to embrace these qualities. In the past several years I have been impacted by the importance of sharing our stories and embracing our wholeness. Not only is there is an acceptance in sharing our stories, there is freedom and community. When we accept who we are, our entire story, not just the good parts but the dark parts as well, we are acknowledging that our stories have shaped us and helped us to grow. We find that all of the sudden that our dark secrets can no longer be used as weapons against us but maybe as a door that invites people to find comfort and connection in our stories and to share their stories as well. There is wisdom in stories and though we may differ immensely there are similarities that unite our hearts and our minds. Though we perceive things differently, there is intelligence and knowledge in stories that cannot be bought. When people share their narratives, wrought with integrity and sincerity both the storyteller and the listener have an opportunity to grow. When we receive stories with an open heart and an open mind, we allow them to touch our souls; we are then able to respond with empathy instead of judgement.

We are who we are, but we are constantly changing and growing. Maturity, experience, incidents and circumstances change. According to quantum biology we experience a 98% cellular rejuvenation each year so we are literally constantly changing. If we open our minds and our hearts to stories, to possibilities and to ideas ‘who we are’ will change. That is growth.

How many times have we said such phrases that start with:

’I would never’ or ‘if that happened to me’, or ‘can you imagine?’

The issue with those statements is that there are some situations that we cannot truthfully predict or imagine until we find ourselves right in the middle of them.  This type of rhetoric lacks four very important things; wisdom, integrity, sincerity and empathy.

I have quoted this saying by the Dalai Lama many times but it could not be more relevant,

 “Love and compassion are necessities,not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

The world is a scary place. The world is a beautiful place. The world is a place of constant change.

Those three phrases have one common denominator; they are all based on perception. I can tell you what to look at but I cannot tell you what to see.

Now more than ever in my lifetime, we are led to believe that there is an enemy at the gates. In that line up as well is fear, bias, judgement and indifference. The best way to face fear and indifference is with love, patience, empathy, sincerity, integrity and wisdom.

An “Us vs. Them” mindset is dangerous. Fear and division does not create positive change.

We are one. Only egos, beliefs and fear separate us.

I just feel that if we focus on promoting love instead of hate and focus on our similarities instead of our differences the world around us would be a better place. We do not have to agree on everything that would be ridiculous and boring. We should however extend more kindness, understanding and respect.

Is empathy the basis for building bridges to connect people, to understanding the motivations and fears of others and gaining a varied perspective? Can practicing empathy allow us to see the world in greater definition not just from our own perspectives but through the perception of others?

I think so.

“The story is a machine for empathy. In contrast to logic or reason, a story is about emotion that gets staged over a sequence of dramatic moments, so you empathize with the characters without really thinking about it too much. It is a really powerful tool for imagining yourself in other people’s situations”.

~ Ira Glass