There is time to slow down
The pace of our lives slowed for a few years during the pandemic as we kept our social circles small and only did what was necessary. Now it seems we are in an overdrive of busyness.
The tasks are never ending, events and travel are in full force, and the world seems to have picked up where it left off. With barely a glance behind, we are zooming ahead, and the demand on our time and attention is stronger than ever. It feels good to be free of the uncertainty and pain that the pandemic brought with it, but secretly maybe we long for the simple quiet of days past.
In a world where we find ourselves raring to go again, I wonder – will we remember how to slow down so we can take time to look at our children, to sit together with the people we love, and to help those in need? And most importantly, will we give our time to that which takes us ever closer to our master’s door?
Fortunately for those who seek and practice spirituality, the slow and steady way has always been encouraged.
Slowing how we think and feel and take in the world is directly related to being centered. The wisdom traditions all have some form of meditation or prayer that is aimed at slowing us into this center.1
This awareness of the discomfort we feel in the chaos of life may be hopeful. It comes with the reflection that we need to anchor down in meditation, satsang, and seva as we find ourselves in a world that is changing again. The mystics consistently point out that we need to think about our priorities. If we find we have too much on our plates, perhaps we can cut out the activities that drain our energies and take us away from what we know is important. Understanding that this life is ultimately only a few short breaths, we can use our precious time to cultivate a relationship with the Divine.
In Martyr to Love Divine, Sarmad says,
Do not rejoice in this perishable realm –
Whether king or beggar
you will not remain here forever.
In this drama of a few days, stay awake,
never for a breath forget the Friend.2
When there is so much to do and see and accomplish within this lifetime, how can we slow down so we never forget the Friend?
Maharaj Charan Singh says,
The main thing is that we must live with ourselves. We must live with our meditation, and not get so involved in these outside things that they pull us down and make us forget the real purpose of this human life.3
Moving with the crowd of the busy world, accumulating endless possessions, and spending the greatest resource of our attention on mindless achievement only leads to distraction, confusion, and suffering. Through simran and bhajan we turn our constant attention from the world and place it at our master’s feet. We remember the value of giving our time to daily meditation and we come to realize that our worldly accolades are of little worth in the bigger picture.
Our real treasures are the jewels of a peaceful mind, a contented heart, and a life devoted to the master’s teachings – to the way of Shabd. This is nurtured and built with steady action and love. It is only the action of meditation, only the time and energy we dedicate to his remembrance that will reap true reward.
The masters are advocates of balance, so even as we prioritize our spiritual duty, we cannot neglect the time and attention that need to be given to our worldly duties. With thoughtful care we can enjoy our lives, raise families, have a career, and contribute to society while Sant Mat weaves through it all like a golden thread. Our master is our constant companion, and he is beside us as we fulfil all our obligations. We can remember his love when we cook our family a meal, when we are kind to a friend, when we walk in nature and see the beauty of the trees and the sky.
We can choose to slow down and move at a different pace. Although physical rest is beneficial for our health, a time of quiet away from the rat race of human life is what really serves us. If we make time every day to sit in meditation, we are slowing down whether we realize it or not. We cannot be rushed and at the same time achieve the motionless silence required to focus the mind. When we slow down the pace of our lives, we stop multitasking, we remember our simran, we remember our master, and we give ourselves the spaciousness to think clearly.
In going slow, our minds are not overtaken by a million thoughts and pulled in every direction; rather we trust that we are capable of giving our very best to every moment. Unhurried, we see, we flow, and we allow life to move through us.
In going slow, maybe we come to sit with God.
- Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, p. 338.
- Sarmad, Martyr to Love Divine, Rubai 153, p. 11.
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol III. Q #234.