Slower

Pausing:

 

It’s quiet here

now in this pause

this breath between earlier and later

 

the dogs lie content at my feet

traces of sand from this morning’s walk on the beach

caught in their paws

 

the Christmas tree is up at last

with only two days to go

I forgot the advent candles this year

 

it doesn’t seem important

the forgotten things

not this December

 

I am too tired to care

for what has slipped my mind

fallen through the spaces on my list

 

I have strength only for

the dew glittered spiderwebs

the sound of the wind

 

20151207_110832

A little over a week ago we returned from a short holiday in Mauritius (thanks to a generous gift from my mother-in-law). It was a wonderful time, filled with hours of rest and reading, and a little bit of exploring and adventure too. It’s been a long year, and we are tired. The holiday was well-timed, an opportunity to settle our minds and gear down before the buzz of Christmas and New year. We enjoyed some meaningful conversation and lots of laughter with our boys. I didn’t have to cook, clean or take care of anyone.

One of the things I love most about time away is the space it creates for me to make shifts in my thinking. My mind tends to develop well-worn tracks of thought, loops that wind round and round on the same spool. Over time I find that some of these loops are no longer helpful; some are downright destructive to creativity and insight. But it’s so hard to turn down the volume of my life long enough to interrupt them, to find new stories to inform my life, fresh narratives to shape my choices. Being away from home and breaking the patterns of everyday life, makes it easier to access new ideas. It gives me a perspective that helps me to see what’s working and what needs changing. I come back not only with renewed thoughts, but with the courage and motivation to make necessary changes and to rise above the sluggishness of mind that so often takes hold.

I only put my Christmas tree up today. There are lots of things I haven’t done. And it doesn’t bother me. It would have, not so long ago. I am realising that I am limited in my capacity to do and be. I am beginning to see (finally) that I have to make choices about what is important. I want to be a joyful person. I want to radiate something of the beauty that I believe is at the heart of life. I can get so caught up in everything I think I should be doing, that my mind becomes full of a whirring that drowns out the sound of that beauty, and leaves me drained and discouraged. I become restless, unable to settle my heart into stillness even when I have the opportunity to be at rest.

Since coming home, I have slowed my pace. The easing up on activity has helped to quieten my mind. I think perhaps that is the key: a quiet mind. Some seasons are full of things to do, good things. A quiet mind can carry me through seasons like these, keep me focused on what really needs doing and what can be left.

At this moment, I can hear the wind outside, and my dogs breathing quietly at my feet. My cat is curled up next to my laptop, purring. The wind chimes my dad made are tinkling gently in the garden. I feel grounded and settled, present in this moment.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Rest

SAM_2219

 

Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.

Maya Angelou

 

You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I feel—a hunger and thirst. For six long days, since my work was done, my mind has been a whirlpool, swift, unprogressive and incessant, a torrent of thoughts leading nowhere, spinning round swift and steady

H.G. Wells, When the Sleeper Wakes

 

When I finally lie down, I find sleep elusive. The same thoughts that trouble me during the day are only compounded by the stillness of night.

Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension

 

We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles, we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

 

Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency. 

Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

 

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering. 

Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

 

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once. 

Jennifer Yane

 

There is more to life than increasing its speed. 

Mohandas K. Gandhi

 

Like steam from a cup of hot tea that fogs our glasses, false urgency of matters at hand blurs our vision to important things in the distance.

Terri Guillemets

 

 

Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.

Terri Guillemets

In two day’s time, we will be leaving for a short holiday. It is a generous gift from my mother-in-law, who some time ago gave us a sum of money and told us to use it for some time away. It has been a long year, and we are all feeling in need of a good rest. I find it quite ironic that at the very time most of us need to slow down, the “silly season” pulls us into its manic dance, swirling and twirling us round so that we enter the new year dizzy and disoriented and feeling in need of a break. That’s often how it is for me anyhow. I have not yet managed to perfect that sense of mental equilibrium that enables me to move through this season quietly.

I am so thankful for this little pause, this breath before all the busyness of Christmas and the holidays. I am hoping that time and distance and being freed from daily responsibilities will create a mindfulness that helps me to make measured and careful choices about my time over the coming weeks.

I want to enter the new year with a heart and body that is open to the possibilities it brings. I want to be able to see others, to feel able to reach into their lives from a place of quiet and fullness. I want to gift those I love with presence. I don’t want to be so caught up in my own agendas and exhaustion that I have no capacity for compassion or service.

I am looking forward to many things in the new year, but for now I am thinking only of rest and of cultivating quiet.