By Myra Lewin
In a rush lately? Leaving lights on? Eating while shopping online? Losing your car keys?
The holidays are full of activity. There’s lots to enjoy, loved ones to see, events to attend and meals to plan. But with a (very) full schedule you might find yourself rushing through the day and feeling like you need to accomplish many things in order to satisfy yourself or other people. But rushing doesn’t feel very good, does it?
Rushing is a habit based in avidya, or illusion.
It’s the illusion that in the future there’s a peaceful place where you feel fulfilled, where you live a life of satisfaction. You imagine that this idyllic existence is within reach, but first you’ll need to get through that to-do list. If you manage to complete task a, b, and c before the end of the day then all is well. But the list is really never-ending.
That's because the list is life.
There is always more to do and more to experience. And so rushing from moment to moment only serves to detract from the gift of the present. When your mind is out ahead of you, dwelling in some imagined future, this is the opposite of samtosha, or contentment.
When you rush through a meal, the consequence is weakened agni, malabsorption of nutrients and depleted tissues. Rushing through your days equals a life half-lived, half-tasted and half-digested. Unique experiences (and each experience is unique) are wasted, carried off in the current of life, never to be found again.
Rushing is rajas in excess.
Rajas is a state of doing rather than being. It’s the energy of action; it’s the fire that gets us going. But if you find yourself perpetually in a rajasic mode, moving at full-speed through life, then you’ll likely end up in a state of tamas before long. Tamas is our energetic response to too much rajas; the body-mind’s attempt at counterbalancing all of that effort. Tamas feels like burnout and inertia, which leads to procrastination, dis-ease and stress.
So what is the root of the compulsion to rush?
It’s often the simple misunderstanding that you aren’t already enough, that you are somehow incomplete or falling short of the mark. This leads to the compulsion to perpetually accomplish things in life in order to prove your own value to yourself or other people. However, validation from others will only temporarily pacify a practiced and inaccurate feeling of inadequacy. You will always feel the need to do more to gain the approval that you aren’t giving yourself.
But doing more and more does not eventually make you a more complete person. What it typically does is lead to a feeling of overwhelm, which is really about a lack-based relationship with time: there is always more to do, and never enough time in which to do it. Again, this is avidya - a state of illusion. Your relationship with time is completely a function of perception.
If you decide to be in a moment, rather than do it. If you decide to appreciate and digest each experience fully, then you will find that there is plenty of time...
...because you begin to feel satisfied with now. And then you can gain momentum with this present state of satisfaction, rather than reaching for some future state of glory where you’ll allow yourself to experience joy.
So how do you begin to disconnect from the compulsion to rush? How do you come into a moment knowing that it is already the destination? How do you remember your own wholeness?
Begin by cultivating sattva: sweetness and simplicity.
Clear your mind with some conscious breathing and 15 minutes or so of meditation each morning. Then set some clear intentions regarding what is important to you. Consider first how you want to feel. Frantic or graceful? Hurried or relaxed? Burdened or joyful? And from there orient your day around activities with an attitude that will support your intention.
As you move through your day always remember the value of the present moment, because life is simply that. The present moment. Complete everyday tasks with sweetness. Take joy in the mundane and in doing a good job with the task at hand.
Always trust in the process of life. Everything that needs to happen will happen. It is all right here, right now.