by Natalie Ulrich
Life can be incredibly challenging and we can feel helpless and overwhelmed. This blog isdedicated to a few friends and students who are going through a difficult time right now.
Sitting quietly for a meditation might just not always work even though meditation is a profound way of reducing stress and making space for that inner wisdom to arise.
In a world that is spinning faster and faster by the minute it’s almost impossible for us to slow down and calm the mind. We are constantly trying to catch up with the rest of the world. We live in fear of not being enough, of not measuring up, of losing something or someone, of not fitting in and of not meeting other peoples’ expectations. Most of the time we are going so fast we don’t even notice that we are living in fear or anxiety. We then try quick fixes like over eating, watching too much TV, alcohol or even drugs, just to name a few. We tend to forget when we need to rest and how much rest our body really needs. Stress builds around money, work, relationships, health issues and family matters. How do we slow down in this fast paced world? And why should we even slow down? I always liked the question: “where are we all going in such a rush?” Do we feel comfortable going as fast as the speed of light? Do we ever have time stop to smell the scent of a flower or even catch a glimpse of its beauty? And again, your mind might be jumping in saying: “oh, it’s too boring to slow down. Or “I have more important things to do”. What really surprised me was when I discovered, that you don’t have to physically slow down to internally slow down and calm your mind. I once heard, that Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, would rush through the airport and still be internally calm. That was an interesting approach to life!
It was one of those days, when my mind was simply demanding too much attention.
When I went hiking the other day I decided to try it out. I was going to put on my running shoes and go as fast as I could without allowing the mind to rush along or be distracted. It was one of those days, when my mind was simply demanding too much attention. I was hiking fast and steady my heart was racing and I saw how my mind was rushing with my hurried steps. There were a million thoughts running through my mind, a thousand things that needed to be done and even more things to be fixed or judged. I saw how my mind was racing to the future. It wanted this hike to be over. It wanted me to achieve the fastest hike ever. It wanted me to compete and push even harder. This is funny because I was actually hiking alone. As I became aware of my thoughts, I reminded myself that there was no need to be in the future. I could chose to be in the present and find a joyful place where wisdom and intuition would allow me to breath naturally with a sense of ease. Maybe even start living life and making decisions from the heart. I, however, did not physically slow down. I started bringing my attention to my breath, I felt the inhale and the exhale, the expansion and the contraction. I started observing the trees that were surrounding me, the green grass that was reflecting in the sunlight. I noticed the rays of sun squeezing through the dark forest. I heard the sound of the wind that was gently howling through the trees and a stream of water flowing down the forest. Birds were singing and all of a sudden even though I was going quite fast, the world around me had almost come to a stop. Consciousness, there it was. I felt a sense of aliveness and peace and suddenly I knew how being one with nature was of primary importance. There was space for inspiration. There was time and space for meditation. There was trust, contentment and integrity. I was alone but not lonely. There was time for stopping to smell the scent of a flower. Eckhart Tolle says: “We could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants.” Everything was moving, vibrating and pulsating and so was I.
Nothing had really changed except for my focus.