Yes, I know, you’re really busy.
But would you take some time to sit still for a while? I mean really still. Twenty minutes of not doing anything.
Sit upright, alert, awake to yourself and your life for a while, and see what you find.
Don’t go to sleep (though you might quickly find once you’ve been sitting for a few moments quite how tired you actually are).
Quite soon you might discover how difficult you find it to be with yourself (could this be why you’re quite so busy as you are?). And how much is going on even when you’re doing nothing.
Thoughts crowding in. Ideas. Plans. Judgements. More plans. More judgement. Your inner critic chomping away. Feelings – irritation, anxiety, fear. Perhaps flashes of joy. Maybe love. Maybe gratitude. But, for many of us, mostly anxiety and irritation of one sort or another.
But if you do sit still for a while, and if you do it regularly, you might start to catch glimpses of something that’s behind your familiar whirling thoughts and feelings, behind all the stuff that you habitually take to be you.
Maybe the first thing you’ll encounter is a more expansive you than you ordinarily know. A you that can observe all of the activity, judging and fearfulness, and know itself to be bigger than all of that. A you that doesn’t need to be needed. A you that isn’t so invested in running away into busyness. A you that’s able to experience whatever there is to be experienced.
And then, given enough careful attention, and with much waiting and stillness, you might discover something even beyond that. A background aliveness from which all of the you that you experience arises. An aliveness that’s deeply engaged in everything – for it is life itself – but not caught up in it. An aliveness that’s content with simply being alive, amazed at it even. An aliveness that finds joy in the simplicity and sheer unlikeliness of being here – in breathing, in the beating of your heart, in your capacity to see, hear, love, hate, grieve, act, sleep, rest, eat, move, speak, listen. An aliveness that is not trying to get anywhere at all but which is fiercely, actively committed to life itself.
We forget this part of ourselves because finding it also requires us to find so much of ourselves that we can’t tolerate. But we would do well to remember it once in a while, because it’s a source of deep love, deep commitment, and vibrant, generous, living possibility.
And to be sure, we could all do with some of that in our frantic, over-stretched lives.