The Olympic motto ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ can be taken literally. At every International sports competition, records are set. Milestones that seemed impossible are regularly surpassed. Some give credit to training techniques, others suspect drug enhancement, while a few recognize the development of our species. To put things in perspective, Mark Spitz, who set seven Olympic records for swimming in 1972, would not have qualified for the 2000 Olympic team.
Business advances at the same pace. The stock markets constantly change and values go up or down. Companies try to exceed their sales forecasts each year and push for more the next year. Have you ever heard of a salesperson having their targets reduced? No matter how much is achieved, everyone expects the next year to be even better. When a business does not succeed gloriously, it may crash and burn.
Crowded cities get busier. People rush around, pushing and shoving. Everywhere there are lineups and crowds with anxious people trying to get things done quickly. Parents trot through the shopping mall, angry with their children for slowing them down. Drivers continuously switch lanes, looking for a quicker route. Employers and customers always want something done ‘yesterday’. It is no wonder that heart attacks are common.
I visited a friend recently who had decided to walk for his health. We went out for a ‘leisurely stroll’. After the first mile I had to stop. We had been moving at an incredible pace, faster and faster along the sidewalk, swinging our arms and not noticing how hard we were breathing. Finally, I stopped and asked my friend to stop as well. He found it difficult, but agreed.
Though I blamed my fitness, it was really my intention of calmness that brought me to a halt. I then demonstrated how to ‘walk like a monk’, a technique taught to me by a Buddhist monk named ‘Bhante’, which means ‘Spiritual Friend’. Walking slowly and deliberately, each step taken is matched exactly with the breathing. Right foot forward, breath in through the nostrils. Left foot forward, breathe out through the nostrils. Matching your breathing to your walking requires you to move slowly. Instead of walking with the intention of getting somewhere, I was taught to simply enjoy the movement. As I slowed down, I began to see more of the world around me.
What I began to notice was how much of a rush everyone was in. Around me were honking cars, swearing drivers and angry pedestrians. Unlike children who run for the joy of running, most adults rush because they feel that they have to get somewhere. Instead of appreciating where they are, or the journey that they are on, most people begrudge time, as it gets in their way.
Learning to have patience can be difficult. Usually, our thoughts are related to events and activities that exist away from where we are at the moment. When you go for a walk, are you really focused on where you are and what you are doing, or are you thinking about past or future activities? When you drive, is your main concern about getting there?
My suggestion is to slow down and take a look around. There are few things so important that they must be done immediately. What are you rushing for? Become aware of your pace as you walk, of your anxiety as you drive, of your need to speed up. Change your intention and begin to appreciate the moment. When you stop to smell the roses, check out everything else around you as well.
1. Arrange a time where you have no other responsibilities except to just be.
2. Practice ‘walking like a monk’ in a natural setting.
3. Sit in a busy area and observe people rushing.
4. Ask someone in a rush to slow down and see what happens.
Excerpted from Soulwork 101: A New Age Guide to Personal Transformation by Glenn Stewart Coles
©Copyright 2009, 2015 Glenn Stewart Coles