The Hurry Sickness
Ah fall, a time for homecomings, baseball play-offs, and everything pumpkin but this year I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend (yes, even more disturbing than everything pumpkin.) I was shopping in a craft store, mid-October mind you, and was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find Halloween and fall decor was already marked down 50-70%! Why? Apparently, to make room for the tidal wave of Christmas merchandise that had been stealthily creeping onto their shelves since September. And now it appears November 1st is poised to take the place of Black Friday as the kick off for Christmas. It’s like Thanksgiving is being erased from existence. Why the hurry?
Spiritual teacher Sri Eknath Easwaran believed hurrying was actually a sickness. He claimed hurrying only makes our lives tense, insecure, inefficient, and superficial; living faster and faster gives no time for inner reflection or sensitivity to others. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passage_Meditation
Hurrying as a sickness is an intriguing concept. As I reflect on Sri Easwaran’s proclamation and my own habits, I think about what happens to me when I’m in a hurry, when my body is in one place and my head is scattered about. Nothing gets done well, that’s for sure. And how does hurrying feel in my body? Frustration will arise and my jaw will tighten, muscles start to tense, head begins to throb, and my chest feels heavy. In other words, not good; maybe even, oh I don’t know… like I’m sick?
One Pointed Attention
Is there a cure for The Hurry Sickness? YES; slow down and practice the art of One Pointed Attention (training the mind to give full attention to one thing at a time). According to Easwaran, slowing down and setting priorities can reduce the stress and friction that is caused by hurrying. Slowing down also contributes to the attainment of calmness of the mind and personal growth. One Pointed Attention helps to deepen concentration, a basic requirement for achieving any goal.
Staying present has been one of my struggles, especially since chronic illness has entered my life. I’m always catching myself remembering and dwelling on the past, as well as imagining and worrying about the future. I wondered where in my life I could use a little one pointed attention. Well, obviously everywhere but so as to not feel overwhelmed, I decided to start with my morning cup of coffee.
Just me and my Java
I do love a good cup of coffee but tend to multi-task while drinking it thus never really appreciating it. Many mornings find me at my computer with a cup by my side. Often times I reach to take a sip only to find it tepid and undrinkable or worse yet, the mug is mysteriously empty! This got me thinking, what if I gave my full attention to my cup of coffee and took the time to actually enjoy the act of drinking it while doing nothing else? And that is exactly what I did.
As I sit outside on the deck, cup in hand, I feel the warmth of the brew radiating into my palms. I close my eyes. The steam gently caresses my face as I bring the mug to my lips. The smokiness of the aroma makes me grin. I take a sip and make a yummy sound. As I open my eyes, I gradually become mindful of my surroundings. The chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves as the squirrels forage and play tickles my ears. I let the trees cast a spell on me as I watch them sway in the breeze. I take another sip. I become aware of my breath, it is slow and even. I feel fantastic!
I am ready to take on the day, one thing at a time.