Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Be Empowered or Just To Be

Mind, Body, Spirit, Soul… Parent, Child, Student, Coach… Work, Relationships, Community, Self… Home phone, Cell phone, Pager, Email… Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Blogger… How do we work with all the aspects of our lives and bring them harmoniously together without feeling fractioned off or buried beneath? How do we make sense of things when they seem to be floating around us haphazardly? How do we see the forest when they’re chopping down the trees? How is it that the more we know, the less we know we know?

With more options come more freedoms, right? With more awareness comes a deeper peace, correct? And with more at our disposal means more manageability, wouldn’t you say? Then why does is not always feel that way? Why does it sometimes feel that in the pursuit of simplicity and authenticity we’re making our lives more complex?

I read recently that human beings are great at making simple things complex. I believe this to be true – because I seem to do it myself - but I wonder why it might be so. Is the complex web we weave just clutter and extraneous stuff not serving us? And is there a way to de-program this default of making things harder than they have to be? Like daily affirmations and yoga stretches, practical tips for getting our ducks in a row, maybe even an emergency mantra for particularly scattered times…

As I write this and put an absurd amount of question marks at the end of my sentences, I realize the peanut butter and banana tortilla wrap in my hand is disappearing into my mouth faster than I can taste it. Being one of the slowest eaters I’ve personally ever met, I pause to consider my unconscious behavior and soon realize that Lesson One seems to literally be at hand.

Recognize when you’re accelerating at an unnecessary pace, if you’re feeling or acting hyper, frantic or anxious. (If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is probably the case). The trick here is to recognize the growing momentum that doesn’t feel so good and step out of it by becoming present, grounding yourself and feeling the gentle movements of your own heartbeat or nature’s grace, rather than the feverish clamoring of society. That’s all – just stop and breath slower, smell the bouquet of flowers in your grocery cart, hear the music overhead, take a bite out of that baguette and really taste the crunch, the softness, the subtle flavor of bread with nothing smothered on it.

And then later, when we’re more “pulled together” and feeling more “ourselves”, maybe look at what caused us to feel overwhelmed in the first place. If we have too many demands being placed upon us, it’s time for some honest-to-goodness values/goals assessment and re-prioritization. If our sense of overwhelm is being caused by an over-reaction to outer or inner triggers, on the other hand, then we should look at why we’re feeling so vulnerable and why we’re letting our psyche go on autopilot.

The truth is that we typically have a choice in just how connected we are, how we handle those strands of our existence, and when we give them too much power. There is rarely ever a real need to be parent, child, employee and student all at once. How much does the world need for us alone to save it, and come on, is that really possible? – No. Why not practice kindness over competition, creativity over debate, overall goodness over perfection, or whatever contributes to our sense of inner peace? Rather than being something to pursue, as if it’s up ahead or moving faster than us, simplicity is in the now and authenticity is nowhere but within.

More than being accomplished or being the best that we can be, is the trick to life just being fully and honestly in as many moments as we can? I’m starting to think that living up to my potential and leaving a legacy shouldn’t take as much out of me as it does… So maybe if I ease up on the expectations, those things will happen in their own way and in their due course. And if not – if I just leave this planet empty-handed, one day knowing I learned to appreciate it all – well, I think that simple lesson is pretty darn profound.