In one of my Tai Chi classes, Sifu George kept reminding us all to slow down.
He said that if you are going slow enough you will catch your errors and take remedial action before you commit them.
Sure enough, I could easily see that the slower I go, the more attentive I become. The more I notice, the less energy I waste. Instead of resistance and awkwardness, suddenly there is flow, coherence and smoothness in my movement. All of which betters my form.
During Tai Chi practise, the value of this thought and the change it brings about is obvious, though rather difficult to implement. (Despite two years of regular practise, I often remain a little faster than the optimal pace.)
To further incorporate this degree of presence and awareness in life as it unfolds is surely challenging. However, whenever I test this in in reality, I find it to be illuminating and rewarding.
To illustrate, let me share one of my simple experiments:
Recently, I was visiting family in another city. If one leaves early in the morning, it’s usually a 4 to 4.5 hour drive, with a limited 15 minute halt midway. This, despite the fact that I tend to speed on the expressway stretches. I have done this scores of times, so I have the timing down to pat. I also know that leaving even half an hour later than usual adds significant traffic time to the drive.
As the monsoon has begun, I decided to start at daylight, an hour later than usual. I was also determined to drive slower this time. Given the delay and my reduced speed, I fully expected to take at least 5 hours to reach.
Yet, resolute and patient, I maintained a safe and steady pace throughout. It was green and beautiful all around and I could drink in the surroundings in my left lane. In keeping with this mood, I even took a longer halt than usual, savouring my breakfast leisurely before resuming the drive.
To my surprise, after all this, I reached my destination in less than 4 hours!
Slowing down helped in not only reducing risk but also in reaching earlier whilst enjoying my journey.
Its been a few days since I got back, but I am still ruminating over this 3D, counter-intuitive result:
Reducing effort and slowing down can actually enhance value, efficiency and overall speed.
Of course, this is old news for Tai Chi and Taoist Masters. But I find it interesting that such routine, day to day experiences are scattered throughout all our lives and yet, we often fail to assimilate their impact.
All the outside cues and demands would have us believe that we need to go faster, and not slower.
And the more that one gives in to the ‘monkey mind’, the more it jumps all over the place.
The consequent stress and urgency leaves little room for taking pause on a regular basis and busyness and hurriedness are mistaken to be proof of our adaptation and progress.
However, in reality, these diminish our self awareness, our clarified and complete reading of the situation and consequently limit the quality of our response.
What we need is not blind speed, but a highly attuned awareness and a fluid agility.
For me, this incidence has reinforced my conviction that as transformations and transitions continue in the outer world, there is merit in growing stiller in the inner world.
How about you?
If there seems to be a way to improve your productivity and wellbeing would you not be interested in giving it a try?
What if the answer lies not in more, but in less?
Less distraction, less urgency, less fear-driven, less force?
They say, if you don’t have time to meditate for 20 minutes, you need to meditate for 40 minutes.
But I suggest that if not quantity – it is surely worthwhile investing in some quality recharge time.
A 5 minute Exercise to Reclaim Peace, A Swift Aura and Chakra Cleansing Tool or 5 minutes of Zhan Zhuang (Standing Meditation) can all be remarkably rejuvenating and centring.
Many more meditative and clearing options are available for free at my website and at other sites online.
Do consider incorporating one of them into your daily routine.
You may be surprised at what a difference it can make!
(If you do give any of these practises a fair shot, please share your experiences…Would be happy to hear your own observations. And if you find any of these posts useful or interesting, please do share them with others.)