We slowly walked over to the lakeside, holding two large bags filled with vegetables – zucchinis, carrots, potatoes, onions, and various herbs and leaves. The surrounding mountains welcomed us and we took a seat by the lake. I began washing the veggies in my bag and by the time I had finished, my friend Luana was still washing her third vegetable. I watched silently, noticing the amount of care and attention she gave each vegetable. There was no rush, nowhere to go, and a real enjoyment of the moment.
By contrast, for as long as I can remember, my default speed has been fast. I’ve walked fast, talked fast, and always strived to complete an overly ambitious daily to-do list. Perhaps it’s because society tells us “time is money”. Perhaps it’s because all our measures of success tend to be based on outputs, on how much we achieve – numbers of customers acquired or sales made, rather than the process or how we get there. Perhaps it’s because as children we were always told “well done” for things we achieved and rarely – even now – do we acknowledge each other for simply being. As a society, we’re so destination focused that I think we prioritise getting there as quick as we can, losing sight of the beauty of the journey.
When I reflected on why I did so much, I realised partly it was because I love the work, it’s fulfilling, the people are I work with are great and so on. But I also realised that I wasn’t able to fully accept myself or this moment, as being enough – and therefore felt I had to “do”.
I had become the classic “human-doing” rather than “human-being”.
Over the last few months, life has been teaching me what it means to fully accept oneself.
It has begun with affirming to myself that I am enough. We all are enough. It is enough – in fact beautiful – to simply exist. There is nothing I need to do. Nothing I need to change. I am perfect and whole as I am. And so is everyone else. And so is this moment.
However, as I began writing or meditating on these affirmations, I felt these statements simply weren’t completely true. What about the fact that I get angry? Frustrated? Don’t always do as I say? How can I be okay with all the “negative” characteristics and habits I carry?
I decided to simply experiment. I wanted to see what would happen if I allowed, accepted and embraced all of these things – all of me. It’s very much a work-in-progress but I already feel a huge weight and pressure has been removed. Rather than judge certain characteristics or habits as negative or positive, as desirable or undesirable, I am beginning to see all these characteristics and emotions as teachers that are here to serve and teach me something. All have their part to play.
Self-judgement is slowing fading and I am experiencing a deepening self-love.
Secondly, I have found the simple act of slowing down has been immensely powerful. Nature doesn’t rush anything, yet it achieves everything it needs to. Slowing down has helped me begin to feel free, rather than enslaved by time. And it’s been very simple things. I have given myself double or triple the time I would normally need to get somewhere – and this has led to little detours whilst walking to the bus stop, moments to enjoy the stars above or the birds perched on the surrounding trees, and space to appreciate the journey. During the 10 day silent meditation retreat I attended earlier this year, I was forced to slow down – and only now am I realising how much this contributes to how conscious or aware I am of this moment. When I remove the need to hurry, I appreciate the flavours of my food and where it has come from, notice what is going around me, and in me. Slowing down has been a wonderful hack to be more present. And the more present I am, the more the need to “do” diminishes.
My intention every morning for the past weeks and months has been to accept myself and to slow down to enjoy this moment. To take my time washing the vegetables, to give full attention to the process of whatever I do, and to enjoy the journey to its fullest. What have you found helpful on this journey? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Thank you for reading, but more importantly thank you for simply existing!