Slowing Way Down

I’m watching the sky light up this morning.  I begin watching well before the sun comes up (6:45 is early enough, actually), so that I can be a witness to the contrast of the darkness, where the stars are still visible.  It’s nippy out, and I have leg warmers, fluffy socks, and three layers up above.  I’m wearing a fluffy purple muffler to keep my neck warm.  I’ve finished my tea and I’m at a point now where I might usually go and start my stretches because nothing is really beckoning me to continue watching the pre-sunrise sky in the east.  Then I notice two little groups of birds flying with each other.  They are flying in tandem.  They make sort of a figure 8 in the sky; they float toward and through each other and then out again in this rhythm where they are repeating the pattern over and over and over again, flying with each other.  It seems to me that they are playing.  As they continue this pattern, it’s kind of hypnotic to watch, and interesting too because they know what they are doing and they are doing it purposefully, and for some reason that I can only imagine.

I’m still facing east and it strikes me that these birds are right there, in my line of vision, and I keep watching.  It seems to me that there are no other little groups of birds doing anything anywhere else.  But this little group of birds has positioned itself right in front of me.  And I just continue to watch them until they merge and become one group.  And that one group of birds continues flying in my line of sight back and forth and around.  And there are little outsiders, and I watch how they have to fly extra hard to catch up, from time to time, to avoid falling out of the group, and the distance they have to fly to stay in the formation is bigger.  But they do their part to continue to be with the group, and the group continues to function like a group and it just keeps moving and dancing and doing what it does.

I think about this group of birds, and what motivates it to do what it does.  I can’t imagine that it is striving for perfection, or that any of those individual birds are working on a technique, or that they are trying to get it better than any other little group of birds or needing to get any better than they were before.  They are just doing it.  They are flying.  They are flying because that’s what they do.

I’m admiring patterns these days.  Some patterns that are emerging are the similarities I see between bodywork (tai chi, etc.) and being with other people.  The three levels of patterns that are occurring to me are 1) Slow down, 2) Let Pleasure In, and 3) Don’t Try; Just be.  Today I’ll focus just on the first, but I know they are also all woven together.

Slowing down when spending time with other people improves the quality of the connection.  It improves the likelihood that what is being shared is a person’s deepest truth and not some unexamined word pattern that emerges from habit or old wounds; discharge of (and/or distraction from) unfelt emotions, or defenses against really being known.  Our culture does not currently support being slow with one another, but I say this is where so much richness, beauty and potential lies.  What would it take to create an environment in which taking two deep breaths before responding would be natural?  And a listener would not rush in to fill the silence.  An environment like this would offer an unspoken, “There is no need to rush.  Take your time.  Take all the time you need to express yourself fully.”  How amazing and how terrifying would that kind of environment be?

I desire to mend old ways of relating with others: hiding, controlling, defending.  It is my intention to get better at staying connected with myself and my felt sense as I share myself with others, so that I can benefit more from the connection that human sharing can offer.  Talking before connecting with myself, I have found, can result in saying things that might be “true” but are unkind, or “true” only at a superficial (usually injured, egoic) level.  What I communicate when I am fully grounded and embodied is an expression of what I value, it invites a response from you that is an authentic expression of you, and the sharing creates something of value that simply nothing else can.

With the body, in activities such as yoga or tai chi, we are gently coaxed into <em>asanas</em> or forms that are different from what we would habitually assume.  Such activities give us opportunities to slow down – to explore and know ourselves better, to listen to our deeper truth, and to improve the quality of our lives.  Slowing our movements down allows us to bring awareness to unconscious ways we have used our bodies to avoid discomfort or pain it might have just been more “pleasant” to ignore.  When we rush from Point A to Point B we are likely to take the path we have habitually taken, whether it’s the most elegant, most expressive, most effortless, or most ergonomically sensible path.  When we take this path (from A to B) unconsciously, despite the extra effort this route may cost us (both in terms of its inefficiency and the energy required to keep information outside of awareness), we inevitably communicate our unconscious pain in the world – at the very least to the unconscious selves of others, who have brains designed to pick up such information.  Such subtleties match up with other information patterns they have stored in their memory banks, beneath conscious awareness and are likely to later trigger unconscious responses and unexplained emotions in your relating with one another.

In slowing down, we may feel something we’ve been avoiding.  And we might not like that, actually.  But in slowing way down, we may make connections, and gain understandings about ourselves we never had before.  In slowing down, we bring consciousness to those painful places we’ve been avoiding, to find out what is actually there.  And in bringing consciousness there, we can understand that the pain is nothing more than sensation.  You thought that was pain.  But approaching that sensation with curiosity instead of judgment, with gentle exploration and generosity in terms of time and pacing, this “pain” might actually offer you information that heals and pleasure that you hadn’t afforded yourself before (which besides feeling good, brings resilience, vitality and gentle supportive presence to the body).  It’s not the scary thing we’ve been spending so much energy protecting ourselves from and avoiding.

When the person I’m with is accelerated, I feel compelled to share what I have to say quickly.  I am somewhat skilled at meeting other people where they are vibrationally, and have built my identity around matching and attuning, and blending in.  Unknowingly, I have postponed developing the ability to claim my own vibrational frequency and maintain it in the presence of another.  As a result I have often settled for the superficial (shiny, exciting) interaction that happens between two people, when what I am yearning for is so much more.  The pleasure of a particular kind of connecting that I yearn for is one in which I am unguarded, grounded, and connected with exactly who I am.  Grounded, in this moment, is nothing more than being attuned to my senses in this moment, being willing to slow down and take those two breaths before responding, and speaking only those words that I need to speak to express my experience in the moment.

It’s not possible to be truly compassionate with ourselves or others when we are running on adrenaline and cortosol, on guard, defended and triggered.  That is why I recommend learning how to slow down, calm the body, connect with yourself and then communicate with those around you from a grounded, mindful place.  It takes more than a sound bite to express oneself.  And it takes more than sitting in front of the television to relax after a stressful day at work.  Changing gears after living a high-vibration lifestyle for years and years is something that has to be done on purpose; it doesn’t just happen on its own.  That is what I have put my mind to doing, and let me tell you, I will never turn back.

 

The birds this morning, in their flying and being who they are reminded me that we all know who we are, though we might have temporarily forgotten.  We have worked so hard to cover up what makes us uniquely us, to mask it, or to make it different so that it is acceptable to someone else.  The birds’ message to me this morning was: Don’t try; just be.  Right now, do what is necessary to reconnect with the God-given greatness of all that you are.  Be right here in this moment, now, and play as if right now were all that there was.  You have a way to express yourself, and you have your own, inherent vibrational frequency.  Re-member that it is right to want to do what you do effortlessly, naturally, and with great playfulness and joy.  And then give yourself permission to go out and do it.

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