How Busyness Contributes to Avoidance!

“There is more to life than increasing its speed” (Gandhi & Desai)

The Forest as a metaphor for life

If I use the forest as a metaphor for life, why then do many of us stay at the mouth of the forest: close and so busy that we don’t take time to venture into the fullness of the forest /life?

There are many shrubs (smoke screens) at the mouth of the forest beckoning, distracting, keeping us so busy that we are protected from facing that we are denying life experiences as it was meant to be lived. We spend our energy watering, pruning, weeding and shaping the shrubs.

The shrubs (distractions) delay our journey. We say we want to get into the forest; however we are afraid, and we stay busy at the periphery. Our behaviors and words are not integrous. A first step, and a necessary one, is to stop the busyness, reflect on what we are really doing. In stopping and turning towards our fears, we may disarm them enough to have less power over our actions: essential to having a life in full.

Your path need not look like another’s because it is speaking to your essence. We underestimate our need for a full life, when we deny our need for beauty, the need to stop and witness the sunsets, to really look at our children, to absorb the beauty and magic of them at every stage.

You are not your lists:

We live our numbing schedules, as if crossing things off our list is living. I remember adding a few things I had already done to the list to help me feel my day was more productive. How pitiful was that? Was I attending to living when I did that? No! I was feeding my ego of accomplishment; the ego that always has its mouth open yapping ‘Feed me! Feed me!’ Remember, you are not your lists.

When we are not mindful, we live as if our lists, our distracting schedules are what life is about. In the above example, whereby I created and crossed items off my list, the day’s end could not have been satisfying. Like so many days, I was not truly present, neither was the day fully enjoyed. What are we really attending to? On the days I created lists to feel accomplishment in the crossing items off, did I see the bluebird flying from tree to tree, diving, circling, landing, creating a beautiful dance, intertwined with the green? Not really!

My behavior was that which lessens the fullness of life, to say nothing of draining passion out of it. It is the kind of thing that can cause profound guilt, remorse and regret, when something happens in the life of one who was important but not attended to. Of course, there are those among us who can have lists and routines and still see the bluebirds. That is the kind of balance most of us aspire to as we are not there – yet.

Children will teach us …if we allow them

Just like pets, children have the magical ability to draw us into the here and now. If we tune into those moments, they can bring us joy and lighten our load. Too often we do not allow the ‘moments’ to nourish us. We tear around, distracted, waiting for a Neiman Marcus peak experience, to hit us over the head and get our attention. While we are waiting for a flashing neon hit, we are likely to miss several J.C. Penney smaller miracles.

I remember being in Yellowstone National Park, drinking in the grandeur, overwhelmed with the mystery of fog partially covering a majestic mountain, and being moved aside by busy, camera-laden tourists, wanting to hurriedly get their pictures, jump in their cars and drive off to the next site. How can the magic seep in to feed our souls if we do not give it time and attention?

Give yourself a hypnotic suggestion:

In doing hypnotic work or relaxation exercises with clients, it is helpful to inject a line, to give them permission from the beginning to slow down and take as much time as they need, as we move from one level of relaxation to another. Many have told me that giving them the inner permission disarms them enough, to drop some performance anxiety. The pressure is often a concern that they are not doing it right, that they are taking too long or that they need to hurry up.

We call it stress:

Inherent in the lives we live is a certain amount of busyness; however when it becomes excessive, we can get imprisoned and driven by our own doubts and fears… A strong pattern of busyness, going from one thing to another without a break, with a looping pattern in thoughts and actions is a pattern we call stress. Instead, call it by its right name. It actually is an irrational or neurotic way of behaving.

The same people who are stressed beyond elasticity and seem quite fragile, have trouble hearing me suggest that they take a review of their lives. They find it very hard to consider prioritizing activities and/or developing a practice of reflection or meditation to assist them in doing a course correction. Many prefer homework between sessions, rather than the practice of stopping and reflecting.

Being more productive or busy will not by itself bring you peace and happiness. What will it take for you to reflect? Will it take a crisis or a loss of health or a marriage?

Excessive busyness does not feed your heart or bring happiness. Being driven about work and other activities is used frequently to deny emptiness, an attempt to fill the inner voids.

Will you change one thing?

Hopefully you will get a nudge to know yourself at a deeper level, not to judge or demean, but to accept yourself where you are now.

An Irish blessing blesses the first step: the hardest one to take, The understanding is, that once you take the hardest step; the others will fall into place. When we succumb to a way of life that is fragmented, we often have trouble turning off the ‘think tank’ at night, when our body needs sleep to restore energy. This busyness gives us an illusion that we are achieving, as we are tossed and turned by externals.

We are not doing much of anything well!

We may see some results but if we face reality. there is nothing mindful going on here. When we are driven primarily by external activities, even though it may seem that we are achieving and making progress. If one looks at the underpinnings of this frenzied activity, one sees it is anxiety driven by strong compelling forces, therefore not being freely chosen. It is not true directed activity, and we become passive victims of external forces. For example, an anxious man who greedily amasses money, looks active but is really passive in that he is so driven, he is not free to make other perhaps wiser choices. Our society tends not only to condone this way of engaging in life but is supportive of the numbing activity. Are you going to say, ‘wait a minute and stop this merry go round’ or are you going to wait until choices are out of your hands.

Buddha says…

A man on a repetitive cycle of destructive behavior asked the Buddha why it continued to be such a struggle for him, the Buddha replied, “I have stopped, you have not.”
When we practice stopping and reflecting, we will be privy to a powerful inner energy and a core calmness as well as clarity. It is not a to-do list. This practice will open you to a life, something larger than you ever dreamed of. Some people, who do not understand, will call your life miraculous.

Blessings, Laura 

Laura B Young

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