Prior to owning a horse, I would often pass by one standing at a barn or out in the field and think they were bored, lonely, or even sad – especially in the dead of winter when they tend to move less. My heart would reach out to them while my subconscious thoughts were whispering ‘move…you need to be moving’. I came into this view with a human perspective in the company of my own state of mind at the time.
Like so many others, I was trapped on my perpetual hamster wheel, with white knuckles holding on tight – always working towards an agenda that constantly had me thinking, strategizing, second-guessing and trying to control outcomes yet never truly experiencing a peace of mind. Round and round I went logging the miles on my odometer, often feeling as though I weren’t accomplishing anything other than creating more physical tension and mental fatigue. And yet, that perpetual motion felt necessary.
Frequently we value ourselves and measure our daily, weekly and annual successes by how busy we are. How many people did I meet with today, what did I accomplish, what are my results? What else must I be doing and oh geez…what did I forget to do? We go to bed exhausted, wake in the middle of the night adding to our ‘to do’ list, and then get up the next day to repeat it all again. All the while the control we’re desperately trying to achieve has put us out of control. In the process we’ve forgotten to pause, reflect inward, and spend quality of time not only with ourselves but with others.
While I still find quieting my mind challenging at times, each day I strive to be more horse-like and find the time to silence my thoughts. Contrary to what I used to think, I’ve come to appreciate that just because horses or people are being still doesn’t always mean that boredom, loneliness, sadness, or even laziness is at play, rather one is caring for themselves by quieting their mind and their body. And much like a horse does by preserving their energy for their own survival, when we allow more time in our day to be still, we’re more apt to be physically and mentally fit for our ‘own survival’, personally and professionally. As Dominque Barber puts it “Lessons of stillness lead to clarity; lessons of clarity lead to light”.
As you embark upon this winter and the close of 2013, I invite you to reflect back upon this year. Does it feel as if you’ve racked up the miles on your hamster wheel? What were you setting out to achieve and was it attained? Who or what was sacrificed as a result? How has your body responded?
What would you like to be different as you move into the New Year? Do expectations and old beliefs need to change for that to happen? And what resources can you tap into for help and clarity? What needs to happen for you to become less hamster-like and more horse-like, able to enjoy what’s right in front of you?
While being busy certainly can produce success, when we slow down and practice the art of being still, we’re able to attain another level of achievement – one that offers peace of mind, benefits relationships, and improves our quality of health and living day-by-day.