Relax, Go Slowly

In the five years or so that I’ve been studying with my current Buddhist teacher, the teaching that keeps coming around and landing deeply in my body and heart is to relax. It’s an interesting instruction, because it’s given with the meditation instructions which are about waking up. Now! And, if you’re like me, you’re feeling the urgency to actualize the teachings, or to get as woke as possible, as quickly as possible, which isn’t exactly conducive to relaxing.


One of the practices I’m currently practices is called Shamatha, which roughly translates as “calm abiding”. A major part of the practice is about getting quiet enough so that the mind slows down and there is a slowing down of the great proliferation of thoughts that we normally swim in. When thoughts slow down, it’s easier to stop identifying with the endless progression of thoughts (which for most of us makes up our lives) and to connect in with the great awake space, which the thoughts arise out of. So it makes sense that in order for that to happen, one needs to relax. Relax the body, relax the mind, relax it all.


The other teaching, to “go slowly” has been coming from the Tai Chi teacher that I’ve been studying with for the past almost two years. He’s always wanting us to slow down how we do the form. When you go slowly, you can be minutely aware of all the discreet movements of the form, weight changes and the ways that the chi moves through the body. What I find is hardest for me in this, is slowing my mind down enough to be in the form when I’m moving that slowly. When my mind is moving faster than my body (e.g. thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch, or, or….) it’s really hard to inhabit that slow moving form.


So, together, “relax, go slowly” could be a mantra that is used to counteract the mash of speed and worry that is so much the currency of today’s society. And it’s so counter-intuitive. Because of the anxiety that so many of us feel about the state of the planet, or the well-being of our children, or how we’re going to pay the bills, there’s a tendency to want to speed up and “get it done”.   For me, I find that the speeding up is about “getting it done”, but it’s also one of the ways that I use to distract myself from the aforementioned concerns. Relaxing, going slowly does not seem to be what this organism wants to do.


In spite of that, I practice practice practice, and have had enough experience to know that what my teachers say is true. When I can relax, everything I do goes better. When I slow down, I can bring the presence to my life that I want to bring. When I relax and slow down, I am much better able to connect with my inner teachers and live in a space of confidence about my ability to show up and have a positive impact on my world. It really is a good mantra. I recommend it for everybody. Whatever practices you use to help you relax in a healthy way, I encourage you to prioritize them. It’s for your own benefit and that of all those that you care about. Life is too short for all this rushing around!

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 7th, 2019 at 4:40 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


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