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Helena Önneby

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The courage to slow down

What are we all running towards? What is it that makes so many of us choose to fill our lives to the brim and then chase after all that to be over and done with at some point? Isn’t that an interesting phenomenon? Most of what is needed for survival and cope with our everyday life is automated today (washing machine, buying clothes in a store, vacuum cleaner, food delivery and water from the tap) but still we don’t really have time for life?

I think this is intriguing and I can clearly see this tendency in myself. When a project comes to an end, I add something new. When the to-do list is gradually ticked off, the brain automatically starts looking for new “shoulds”. When I’m facing an unexpected cancellation or need to wait for something or someone, I immediately fill the void with my phone or other distractions. Always. On. 

But then I sometimes ask myself: Honey, where are you going? When do you know you’re “there”? What do you think will happen then?

Am I running away from the stillness and myself with excuses about how packed life is? When in fact I am the one who has created, and continues to create this “packed” life.

Where are we really going?

And what is it that makes us so insanely uncomfortable if life was to pause sometimes?  How come so many of us don’t even know how it feels to be bored? We do a lot of things that are not really that important. Of course, it depends on where we are in life, but there are no “must’s”, we do not have to have a tidy home or a new jacket, we choose to focus and we prioritize our time there. But why? What if it is in stillness we’ll find the answers and the meaning we’re chasing after?

My experience is that once I get to that place, once I stop, there’s an awe for life, in the moment, in total presence. Except for all the times my brain creates a circus right when I wanted it to be calm, or a big wave of emotion comes and it feels like I’m going to drown. Of course, that also happens, often. But even then, why can I not be with that? Listen to those crazy thoughts for a while or feel that great feeling that I put so much energy into pushing away. Because what happens next, on the other side? That’s where life is. In the small details. So huge. 

This is where we get creative. When we are in the parasympathetic nervous system, we have access to so much more of ourselves than when we just rush around. It’s in the stillness we can hear our own intuition. This is where we can take in the greatness of our own lives, in this moment, in the magic of our own bodies.

But it’s curious how creative I am in finding excuses. And how strong my ego is in inventing drama to distract, because the ego has no place in that stillness, and of course it’s terrified of losing airtime. That’s completely understandable. And not quite okay. The ego may be there, it has a place and a function, but it does not rule my life.

Listen, observe, but do not get going. Do not fall into the trap of doing. Stop right there, in the stillness, and I can promise, everything you need here and now, is right there, within you, in the moment. It’s so scary and so worth it. Stop hiding from life by doing. Create space for being and see how your life grows. Life is not “if only”, life is here. Are you?

If you have run fast for a very long time, it may take some time for the soul to catch up.

What does this awaken in you? Do you recognize yourself in me? How do you create space for being in your own life?

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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