I must admit, I used to be one of those people who will never want to stand idle and do nothing. In the past, I always carry reading materials and notebook everywhere I go like to the bank, take public transport, have an appointment with a friend (in case the fella is late), at the airport, etc. Whenever I travel, I opt for the shortest route possible, normally by flight. And the notebook I carry is for me to write down in case I get inspiration for my next blog post.
There is always something to read, to learn, to write, to know, etc. And of course, I will not want to waste time doing nothing. We have to keep ourselves occupied all the time, rite? Our time is precious and we need to keep up with the fast pace of the world in order to stay ahead, correct?
However, over these few months, I have learned to slow down. Just slow down. I’ve learned to sit and wait at airports, bus stations, in queues just doing… well… nothing. Except being conscious of the moment and being mindful. Being contented….. being aware of the present moment, of the breath.
I have been travelling in and out of Thailand very often for these past months. I travel long distances and transit often between airports, train and bus stations involves hours of waiting, not to mention hours on the road travelling. If before, I became bored out of my wits, restless or agitated when I have idle time… now I use the time to relax and observe my breathing to calm my mind. The world moves ahead very fast, I no longer want to go along with its pace anymore because all I see are the faces of tensed, irritated, tired and restless people trying to keep up.
There must be some kind of good in this. Because after a few months of learning to sit down, relax and do ‘nothing’ , the change in me is incredible. I feel more centered, contended, calm and relaxed. When other methods of controlling my temper had failed (I’ve tried to be a vegetarian, then went to low sugar diet but nothing seemed to work), this seemed to work. Because my family had commented that for the first time, my temperament had really improved. And this does not turn me into a lazy person- instead, I become more hardworking and do not get bored at the task at hand. Whatever task I start, I do till completion. Strangely also, I also lost weight- that I had not been able to lose.
All this by just staying in the present, and slowing down.
Why I share this is because I see everyone rushing about all around me. Everyone have to multitask in one form or another, rushing here and there. If they are driving, they will be on their mobile phone, trying to take care of business at the same time. People drive, talk, walk and eat faster. Sleep less. Think more.
And with this fast paced that we set for our lives, because everyone else is doing so, our stress levels are higher, chronic illnesses are common (and acceptable) and ultimately…. life becomes shorter and less enjoyable. Because we never learn to live in the present. Our minds are always busy planning for the future or dwelling in past regrets. Our brains and hearts get very tired after a while.
When we are busy rushing about life because we felt time is not enough, we are at the same time wasting it in:
- sleeping late (till 10am or past noon) during our off days or holidays
- getting transfixed hours of TV
- thinking and regretting in ‘what-have-beens’ or ‘what if-s’ – past situations that we could no longer control
- persuing the wrong priorities in life. If we are not living in the present, our mind tend to dart here and there- and often, we make fast or haste decisions- which we may regret in the future.
- procastinating- thinking about doing the task but never get down to doing it
- living in fear of something and not facing it- so spend a lot of time thinking and being afraid of fear itself.
- going to work everyday and hating it- the mind is living the entire year thinking about that 2 weeks vacation in December- which, when the time comes, just fly past.
- spending time pleasing and entertaining people we do not like, while leaving our loved ones at home
Therefore, we gain more by doing less. Really, it is not the quantity, but the quality.