I have a problem.
I can’t sit still.
For some reason I have to be doing something and even when I’m physically not doing a “thing,” my mind is racing to what I could be doing.
I didn’t realize this until my most recent vacation. Spending time in another place has a way of showing you exactly how addicted to busyness you really are. For the first time ever, I went on vacation alone with no real itinerary. My only commitments included meeting up with a few friends for lunch and just going with the flow.
For some reason, those were the slowest five days I’ve ever experienced. My mind was forced to slow down because I had no clue what the next thing was on my list. I wasn’t looking forward to anything at all, or at least I shouldn’t have been. I made a list of things I’d like to do while I was there, but convinced myself not to plan a thing.
I had a moment of clarity one day at lunch with a friend when I realized how quickly I had consumed my meal. There I was done, wiping my face, while she was taking her time to eat. Why was I rushing when I had no particular place to be after that? I couldn’t even begin to tell anyone if the food was good or what it even tasted like because I literally finished it in five minutes.
It served as a reminder to me to learn to be still. Learn to savor the flavor of life. Learn to be present.
After that, I made it my mission to take in everything while I was on vacation. I woke up every morning to watch the sunrise, because it’s obviously completely different than my normal view. I got real still; listening to the waves, watching as the sun came over the horizon, how the colors of the sky changed minute by minute, how the birds interacted with each other, flying about the pink and orange sky, how the wind came by calmly to provide some cool relief from the Florida heat, how incredibly fierce the sun is in size, power and purpose and how it literally changed from dawn to day.
I began to actually hear my breath, focusing on slowing it down to a calm rhythm instead of the anxiety-ridden rhythm I’m used to.
I began to focus on what was present instead of what was to come and realized how much better I felt as a result.
Being still put a lot of things into perspective for me. In stillness we can appreciate our true nature. We can think clearly and hear answers that we’d otherwise ignore because we’re distracted. I tend to overwork myself — over-committing to things out of perceived obligation and fear of letting others down, completely ignoring the fact that my output basically stinks when I’m in that situation. I’ve lately detached myself from every obligation that doesn’t benefit me first or that I perceive will drain my energy. I was so busy that I wasn’t taking care of myself or working towards my own goals. I spent a lot of time helping others achieve theirs and couldn’t really hear or decide where I was going next.
It’s only temporary, but sometimes it’s important to step away from the busyness and just be open to the insights that arise in the quiet spaces. They will point you in the right direction. Learn to be still.