Tuesday, May 3, 2016

thoughts on slowing down...

This is a true story. 

It happened in the Washington DC Metro Station in 2007.

A man was sitting amid the fast-moving crowds in the station, playing his violin. During the time he was playing approximately 2000 people went through the station, unaware that this man was actually Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world, filling the air with six glorious and intricate Bach pieces on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Although people typically paid hundreds of dollars for a seat inside a theater to listen to this man, on this day he was incognito, part of a Washington Post social experiment to find out how we experience everyday beauty in our lives.

This is what happened. During the forty-five minutes that Joshua Bell played his violin only six people stopped to listen. 

Several children were drawn to the musician, but were quickly pulled away by their parents.

And afterward it raised an important question.

If we don't have 

a moment 

to stop and listen 

to one of the most gifted musicians in the 
world ....

How much do we miss when we’re rushing from one place to another?

How much everyday beauty
do you actually ’see’?

Would you have been one of those six people who witnessed something so startlingly unique and beautiful in the middle of a chaotic morning that you stopped what you were doing to enjoy it?

I'm just asking.

Because the truth is, I am both; I am one of those six people who walks around with open eyes and is willing to stop and relish spontaneous moments of beauty in my surroundings.

But I'm also one of those hurried bodies running toward a place I need to be, completely distracted by my latest list of things to do playing out in my head.

I am both of these people.

I know what it's like to be fully awake and connected to my body, to lay with my forehead pressed into my yoga mat, and with my eyes closed, surrender to the slow, synchronized rhythms of my breath so that for a few mere moments, there is nothing else that in the universe except the sound of Prana-life's energy flowing in my ears.

I'm here for my sadness. My worries. My excitement. My dreams.

I feel the changing seasons on my skin.

And I know my age.

Yet I also know what it’s like when I'm simply going through the motions. When my body is one place but my mind is somewhere else, rapidly flitting from one thing to another, planning, worrying, regretting, Googling, and scheduling. 

I know what it's like to be driving in my car, so deep in thought that I suddenly shake my head and realize there are entire swaths of streets, brightly colored signs, and tanned people in swim suits riding bikes on the sidewalk, that I had passed without truly seeing.
Buddhists refer to these times as a kind of disembodied living; it's when we cease to be fully present in our body because we're swept away by our cluttered, roving mind.

Instead of being fully awake in The Present Moment 
–aware, with all our senses---
 there is an incessant dialogue going on in our heads where we're figuring things out. Maybe we're stuck in the past (regretting, re-grieving, re-living) or in the future (worrying and planning the things that might happen). But to the degree that our minds are moving 100 miles an hour, we’re not fully in our bodies. We’re not really present for the only life we have,
 which is happening right now.

Hmm…when did we glorify multi-tasking?

Do you remember?

 Favorite ways to slow myself down

Get out into Nature.
Keep a journal. 
Practice Mindfulness 
Practice Yoga.
Make time for solitude
Do something creative

can you relate to this post?

Part Two: Living fully--begins in our body


AntiqueChase said...

Great post Leslie. Learning to be truly "present" is a constant undertaking for me. Good reminder!

Blondie's Journal said...

This was an absolutely 'mind opening' post, Leslie. I can only suggest that you might have spread it over 2-3 posts. I lost track and while every single paragraph had me nodding my head, I began to lose track of where we stated. Please, no offense, I'm not the writer you are nor do I have the knowledge you do on these matters. And I so appreciate what you have to say that I want to absorb all of it.

Your example of the extraordinary musician incognito...I am a very curious type and when I'm downtown (Chicago), I'm especially intrigued by street musicians, people watching, window displays...I drink it in. On the contrary I have a very difficult time connecting with my inner self in a meaningful way. I've been listing to an app on my phone at night called Calm. I hope it helps me learn to quiet myself long enough to learn to listen to my mind.

I will come back again to really absorb what you have written~you write such thoughtful posts that make me think...this is definitely one of them. Thank you!


michele said...

I am all for slow living, and I am a seasoned slow liver who has been waiting for everyone to hop on board for silence, solitude, and stillness for decades. When I get preoccupied with the superficial it is because there is a disturbance in my soul, but that realization is an invitation to return home to who I know I am: the beloved. It is in the stillness that I can be my true self, who I was before circumstances began to mold me into a false self and away from love. At some point I realized all of my discursive prayers were empty pleas for the same thing; namely, more affection and respect from others so that I could feel secure. Now my prayer beyond words is to simply see as God sees. And I would def have been in the six who stopped and listened--I stop for bad art for heaven's sake! Xox

Sarah said...

Leslie, I always appreciate your posts that ask serious questions and make your reader think. I've been retired since 1998, but even before retirement, I was and still am the kind of person who takes in what is around me. Passing through a busy metro station or walking down a crowded street, I would stop to listen to such a musician or stop to observe an artist painting plein air. I'm curious about what's going on around me. I stop to listen to birds to see where the sound is coming from, or to study a butterfly or bee that's on a flower. I think it's the primary teacher syndrom. ;-)
I'm a gardener and a stitcher too, and just this week I read an article on how both are much like meditation and likewise are positive for one's health. Disconnecting from the computer screen is something I'm making a conscientious effort to work on. I'm not a TV watcher, but I get lost on my computer reading blogs or articles, looking at Pinterest, or checking and responding to emails. So my recent goal is, turn it off and pick up a book or my stitching project. Some days I'm more disciplined than others, but I'm making progress with my goal.
Thanks again for making me think about such things.

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I can totally relate to this post! Some days I drive to work with the radio off and just marvel at the beauty along the way and others I'm lost in my worries and barely remember the drive. I do hope I would have been one of those who stopped to listen to the music! This is the time of year I seldom plug in my laptop because our summer is so short and I don't want to miss a single minute of it. Thanks for another insightful post that's got me thinking.

Have a wonderful week, Leslie!

Karen said...

I'm a little bit of both. I've learned to notice and appreciate the beauty around me, whether its a field, birds taking flight, even weather. But at the same time, it's sometimes a challenge to slow myself down and not always be thinking of things I "should/need" to do.
Your writing always calms me and reminds me of my goals in life. Thank you.

Marilyn said...

I get the premise, but I think the experiment was somewhat flawed in that a busy metro station filled with people going to work, doctor's appointments etc., lends itself to people maybe wanting to stop and enjoy the music, but logically can not without some sort of repercussion. Of course, I'm making a big assumption that the experiment was done during the work week. :-)

I do agree that we all need to appreciate the beauty around us. I love this quote: Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Notice them."

I have that quote with me at work, I love it. In fact, I may have found it on your blog!

Marilyn (in Dallas)

Calypso In The Country said...

I am also a bit of both but I think as I have gotten older I am much more aware of living in the present - especially when it comes to my kids. Time really moves too fast. I love the quote too.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie, First let me thank your for your kind comment about the post on my mother, I am so blessed to have her and my heart overflows with the love I have for her. Thank you as well for you comments about my more serious posts. It is nice to know that other people are thinking along the same lines that I am.

This post is something that everyone needs to read, at any age. Life goes so very fast and in an instant we blink an it seems we have gone from 28-48. Our kids have grown and out parents have aged, we look back at photos and think why didn't I appreciate my time with this person or that or take in my surrounding on a trip somewhere?

I have become much more mindful in the last two years. I have always loved the slow life but it took a personal tragedy in 2014 that brought me to my knees to realize that most of the stuff that seemed important, wasn't. Since that time I have rebooted my life and find myself more laid back, more open, less anxious and more focused on life and living in, love and enjoying the people who mean the most to me.

Thank you for always bring beauty to your blog, with these mindful posts, as well as your projects.

Have a wonderful day! I hope you are able to spend Mothers day with one or more of your boys!

designchic said...

What a beautiful reminder to us all, Gwen...definitely need to stop and smell the roses a little more...Happy Thursday!

Thehouseofhampton said...

I work in a fast paced industry, and drive the freeways of LA daily. I crave my alone time. Quite. Stars. Nature. Breath. My favorite moments, I've recently noticed, are on my mat. Chanting. A moving meditation. The single most important thing in my life. It brings me back to me. Where would I be if I didn't have this check out/check in time? 4 1/2 hours a week I spend doing this. The aftermath is clarity, clam, appreciation. Does this happen as we age? Or are things shifting? I think we are shifting...
Great post. I appreciate your thoughts and ability to share them.
The House of Hampton

Art and Sand said...

Retirement has made me one of the 6 who stops to listen.

Yesterday Steve and I walked Lulu to the pier. We sat at an outdoor restaurant, on top of the picnic benches so we could see the surf better. As we sat, we talked about the different colors we saw in the water, the shapes of the clouds and we noticed for the first time in 39 years that all the flags lining the pier are on one side of the pier. From a distance, they appear to be on either side.

Because we had no agenda, we could take the time to just sit and observe. Unfortunately, too many people are rushing from one event to the next and don't seem to have the time to just sit and watch.

Thanks for a lovely post.

JoanMarie said...

Oh Leslie how this resonates. I completely understand being both people - the ones who stop and pay attention and those that scurry on by. It is interesting when we stop...just stop and do nothing at all but take a deep breath, clear the mind, and simply look around. The sights, sounds, and smells awaken around us and what a treat that is. At the same time, I am guilty of being in several "places" at once and manage to somehow function in each. This is totally ineffective and I am trying to be more conscience of this behavior to stop. Technology and other factors have turned the world into hyper-drive mode. We are connected to everything 24/7 and try to do everything 24/7. Very tiring. Thank you for the reminder and story - it is eye opening and a thoughtful reminder to just slow down.

brenda murphy said...

Yes, in all ways. I teach meditation and have practiced that and yoga for over 35 is still a practice:) Nice that you shared this perspective in your blog.

Carla from The River said...

Wonderful post Leslie, you are right, I would be both people as well. I am happy to say I am changing more into that person who is slowing down.
It takes a great deal of time and discipline to change, but it is well worth it!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Your posts always speak to me, Leslie...I am so on the same page. I am a person who notices, much more now that I have taken concrete steps to simplify my life. My spirit is craving peacefulness and I am bringing it about in my life...seems even that takes hard work lol.

La Contessa said...

I remember this VERY WELL...............I think I would have STOPPED!The VIOLIN would have said HEY YOU!Now, if it had been a guitar NO I would have kept walking.............THAT IS WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE.

karen@somewhatquirky said...

I would hope that I would stop. But you never know. My hip replacement has forced me to slow down and I have to admit it has been a steep learning curve and an emotional roller coaster. Listening to your body was fine as long as it said what I wanted it to!

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