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In Order to Speed Up, Slow Down

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything in my life. My mind starts to race. I begin checking things off an imaginary list, as if including additional information about a task in my mind somehow brings me closer to achieving the goal. My mind urgently flits back and forth, until I realize I haven’t comprehended a single sentence of the paragraph in the book I’m supposed to be reading. 

The irony of being a busy body is that all that busyness gets nothing done. While I’m supposedly doing one thing, I’m actually entertaining distractions that present themselves as pressing information. They concern everything I’ve got to get done after all!

But in the end, they’re just that: distractions. I miss what I’m reading, so if I’m actually trying to comprehend anything I’ll have to spend additional time rereading later (and that's time that can’t be spent getting all those things done that I couldn’t stop thinking about.)

By feeling pressure to stay busy, we create the exact conditions that lower our productivity. We do second-rate work. We don’t show up for what we’re supposed to, right here and now. 

It was on one of the most hectic and stressful days of my life that I realized, “I’ve got all the time in the world.” I realized the only way that any of it could matter is if none of it mattered. I let go. 

And in spite of the epiphany, the next day I woke up and my amygdala got right back to work reminding me that everything is urgent, nothing’s getting done, and my life is a ruin unless I get into an awful rush like RIGHT NOW.

And that’s why it’s important to have a daily practice of some kind, stillness, meditation, or “me time,” whatever you want to call it, a practice of returning to center and remembering what’s important. 

Otherwise, the dislocation between your Paleolithic limbic system and the neomania we're living in will keep getting the better of you. If it's all too much, then like me, distracted by thoughts about writing a blog post when I was supposedly reading, you need to slow down and take a breath.


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