Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
It’s here! The time to slow down. Time to breathe a little deeper. Time to linger a little longer and we’re all about it. Don’t be in a rush to fly by something good. If you’re looking for permission, here it is! It’s time to slow down.
One afternoon, a tired-looking dog wandered into my yard and followed me through the door into the house. He went down the hall, laid down on the couch and slept there for an hour.
Since my dogs didn’t seem to mind his presence, and he seemed like a good dog, I was okay with him being there, so I let him nap. An hour later he went to the door motioned for me to let him out and off he went.
The next day, much to my surprise, he was back. He resumed his position on the couch and slept for another hour.
This continued for several weeks. Finally, curious, I pinned a note to his collar, and on that note I wrote, “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. I don’t mind, but I want to make sure it’s okay with you.”
The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar. “He lives in a home with three children in it. He’s trying to catch up on his sleep. May I come with him tomorrow?”
While lighthearted, this points toward the mood of compassion. Compassion can be described as letting ourselves be touched by the vulnerability and suffering that is within ourselves and all beings. The full flowering of compassion also includes action: Not only do we attune to the presence of suffering, we respond to it.
There is a wonderful expression that says: “Be kind. Everyone you know is struggling hard.”
It doesn’t matter what age we are, if we’re in these bodies and on planet Earth, it’s not easy. That doesn’t mean that we’re always slaving away or that life is bad, it just means life can be really challenging at times.
Because we are conditioned to pull away from suffering, awakening a compassionate heart requires a sincere intention and a willingness to practice. It can be simple. As you move through your day and encounter different people, slow down enough to ask yourself a question: “What is life like for this person? What does this person most need?” If you deepen your attention, you’ll find that everyone you know is living with vulnerability. Everyone is living with fear, with loss, with uncertainty. Everyone, on some level, needs to feel safe, loved, and seen – just like the dog who just needed a place to rest.
Everywhere you look, things are moving at a fast pace. Hurry up is a common phrase. When I want something, I want it right now. “What? You mean I have to wait 45 seconds for the book I just bought to download? Where’d I put the number for my Internet provider, I need a faster connection!”
The speed of life takes its toll on marriage and family as well. If your day is spent racing around from one thing to the next, it’s too easy to continue this pace when you arrive home each day.
If you feel like life is too fast, if there is no more room on the schedule for another thing to do, if the chaos of the world around you has caused you to create a life determined by others rather than yourself, and if you are desperately seeking a way to slow things down in order to breathe – then here’s a few suggestions to try.
Take a walk. Make it a point each day to walk with your spouse and your kids. Spring is here in Texas so the weather gets better each day. Go outside and sit and observe the world around you. Walk and talk with your spouse.
Walk or ride a bike to places you need to go. Some stores may be too far to walk, but not all. I love the times when my wife and kids and I walk or ride up to the grocery store or a restaurant for dinner. Sure it takes longer to get there, that’s the point. Enjoy the journey there together.
Make it a point to eat outside often. There’s something about being in nature that allows you to slow down. Go to the park for a picnic, eat out in the backyard, or on the patio. Get outside.
Find a moment alone each morning. Before you jump into the day, take some time to simply sit quietly. The longer the better. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Breathe in and out, relax, meditate, pray. What better way to start each day?
Don’t check email first thing in the morning. I struggle with this one the most. It’s such a routine to fire up the laptop first thing in the morning and check to see what’s going on with the blog, emails, etc. This allows too many other things to invade my life too soon in the day. Try waiting until 9 or 10 each morning to check email. That way the first part of the day can be spent on whatever is most important.
Turn off all phones. At some point each evening, turn off your phones, or at the very least don’t answer them for a while and spend that time with your spouse and family. Play games, read together, talk.
Color with crayons. This one is great if you have little ones around. There’s something magical about the feeling of coloring with crayons. Let yourself go and color. Don’t simply help your child with their coloring, color for yourself.
Go on a media fast. We’ve been on a news fast for almost a year. Absolutely love it! Most everything reported today is negative, so why get caught up in it each evening? Don’t worry, with Google and Yahoo, you’ll still know the major things happening in the world.
I’m sure there’s more, add your ideas in the comments.