That Time Of Year
This is the time of year where everything seems to be going so fast. It’s an acceleration to Christmas day, then New Years Eve, and then beyond. That’s why it’s so important that we slow down this time of year. When we get to the gym and find someone is using our machine or when we get to the store and find that the lines are long, irritation can arise. But these things are only a problem if we are in a hurry.
I’ve been told that in Russia for one to two weeks this time of year almost everything closes down. Because everything is closed people have no choice but to slow down and enjoy time with their loved ones. In many places things may only close for a day or two around the holidays so we have to make the choice to slow down.
When we slow down something truly amazing happens, we relax, we notice beauty, we become more kind, and we enjoy ourselves. But perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that we can get almost as many things done in the same amount of time. Frantic activity rarely leads to efficiency.
In addition to being more efficient we also perceive things differently. The lines move about the same at the grocery store, but because we slow down we don’t feel like they are going too slow. People may be on our favorite equipment, but because we slow down, we remember there is a new workout routine we’ve wanted to try out.
Theres no Hurry
Being around others who are in a hurry can be contagious so when you find yourself feeling frantic, try out these tips to help you slow down –
· Take a few deep breaths
· Reconnect with your heart
· Take a walk, run, or bike ride (alone if that’s what you need)
· Leave extra space in your day by planning ahead or managing expectations
· Let go of how things are ‘supposed to be’; being calm and relaxed is a better than any perfect dish, ritual, or present
When we are in a hurry nothing seems possible, our lives contract, and we rush from one thing to the next. When we slow down our lives expand, many things are possible, and we greet each new activity with a fresh and excited mind. Make the choice to slow down; it’s the best way to spread peace on earth and good will to men and women alike.
I wrote a post a couple weeks ago on how to embody the classical spiritual triptych of the archer, the arrow, and the target. The idea arose out of a Yoga class where the teacher talked about how we are each: an archer, aiming for what we want to become; an arrow, the thing that is moving towards the target; and the target, that which we are aiming at becoming. This post will focus embodying the arrow; the self that is dynamically moving towards our goal.
The most important thing about embodying an arrow is to let go of planning. Often the fitness industry sells the idea of a great plan that will get you ‘there’ faster, easier, and for less money. Picking the right plan is important to prevent injury, to develop in a balanced way, and to maximize your efforts, but it’s not the most important factor.
An arrow flows with what is around it, It dips and weaves with the air, having a conversation with it’s environment. As you work towards any goal you must be willing to embody the flexibility the arrow demonstrates.
When we are the archer we see the line to the target as straight line. If we are an excellent archer we take into account things like wind and terrain when we shoot. But as soon as the arrow is loosed, it becomes the object of response and adaptation.
If we resist this subtle flow and adaptation and try to fly in a mathematically straight line we will have a much harder time hitting our target. It is essential when being the act of transformation that we let go of how we thought things would be. Instead we must embrace what is.
How can you embody the arrow this week and let go of some expectations? What if you were to relax into whatever activity you are engaged in? Take some time this week and try being the arrow of change and see how it changes your attitude towards your exercise or fitness practice.
Transformation is the practice of people who transform their lives. I have met many people in my life who have transformed their lives and they all have in common is they are still transforming their lives. They never stop. If the arrow stops moving, it ceases to be an arrow. Make sure that in moving forward you don’t forget to flow with everything else as well.
Ever since living at a monastery I have moved towards living a minimalist lifestyle. But I have struggled from time to time to know where to start and how to continue on the path of less.
Then I found The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta. Leo Babauta writes a very popular blog, zenhabits.net. There are a lot of great things that I could say about his book but to keep things minimal here are 3 reasons this book rocks.
Many books on minimalism have long lists about simplifying a huge house. These books don’t apply to my lifestyle as an early thirties, unmarried, unreproduced man. Other books on the subject are so sparse and conceptual that they don’t give you a concrete place to start.
The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life was walks the middle path. The concepts that Leo Babauta introduces are as useful for a family of four as they are for my life. He gives just enough direction to get you started, without creating an inflexible road map. He does this by sharing from his personal experience and giving readers the first few steps he took on the path to living a simpler life. All you have to do as a reader is take the first few steps with him.
The majority of books and articles I have read on minimalism address how to deal with stuff. The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life does give you tips on dealing with physical items, but it also talks about how minimalism is a value you carry into every aspect of your life. The book covers everything from a having a minimalist home to minimalist fitness.
One of my favorite chapters is on a minimalist computer. I used the tips inside this chapter to make my computer a simple beautiful seamless part of my life. I have tried 1000 different filing and to do list systems and his is the only one that has worked thus far. You may not find this chapter as useful as I did, but you are sure to find at least one chapter that will dramatically simplify your life.
Probably the best factor about this book is that it offers more than a set of rules and procedures. It has more than just a minimalist philosophy or style. Instead this book contains bits of true wisdom. The words have a pure, sparse, power. They reflect more than Leo Babauta’s knowledge of the subject; they are an embodiment of his deep practice of mindful living. In an age where words are cheap the wisdom in this book is of the highest quality.
I would recommend The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta to anyone who wants to know more about minimalism, anyone who needs more ease in his or her life, or anyone who is looking for simple book about how to simplify. It’s a book I have read more than once and refer to regularly. Thanks to Leo Babauta for writing such a lovely text.
You can buy this book here:
And Leo Babauta’s blog can be found here:
- Things that people find grounding
- Exercise, exercise, exercise
- Taking a walk outside
- Eating a piece of fruit
- Focusing on the bottoms of your feet