Great article in the NYT today. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read it.
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” –via The Busy Trap – NYTimes.com.
I know I’m not alone here; much of this rings true for my life (I mean, really, I have said/typed/texted the words “crazy busy” more times than I care to remember). And it is a trap: we feel like we HAVE to be this way. That if we’re not busy, we’re doing something wrong, or we’re lazy, or if we aren’t busy we’re guilty about not being busy. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. –via The Busy Trap – NYTimes.com.
So why, why is it so easy to fall into this trap? Is it escape? Is it not wanting to really be still and quiet with ourselves? Why do we always have to be DOING something, can’t we just be here, now? Reading this article reminded me that 1) this is why we meditate – to combat this constant “busyness”, 2) I really REALLY need to get back to my regular meditation practice ( life has just been so crazy busy, you know, and I haven’t gotten around to it) and 3) of one of my favorite meditation books – Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham which talks about all the reasons we choose not to meditate and the fallacy of being “too busy”.
“There’s an element of emptiness that we keep trying to assuage. We want to find something that feels good and makes sense, something solid that we can use as a permanent reference point. Wisdom might tell us that we’re seeking something we won’t ever find, yet part of the reason we keep looking is that we’ve never quite been satisfied.”- Sakyong Mipham, Turning the Mind into an Ally
And it’s true. Our whole lives, almost, are in this pursuit of doing more, going more, being more. And when we sit down to meditate, we just are (or at least, that’s the idea). If you’ve never meditated before, this is much more difficult than it sounds. To drop the busyness; the to-do lists flying through our heads; the storylines we’re telling ourselves about our last conversation, our job, our home life; to just drop it all and in reality not DO anything. This brings up so much – we resist this more than we expect to – we get angry, frustrated, anxious when we first start to meditate. There’s all this space that comes, and quiet and doing nothing. And really, for most of us, this is a very foreign place. But as we practice, it gets easier, we get more comfortable with “just being” and the benefits are huge: focus and clarity are pretty much inevitable. I know, I’ve had a regular meditation practice – it made my life worlds better. But then I got busy…
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. –via The Busy Trap – NYTimes.com.
This stillness or “idleness” is the yin to the yang of our constantly busy, ever-connected, always-on lives. We need the balance, otherwise we’ll burn out. So, take some time to meditate; turn off the phone; have a day with no plans; take some time to just be – and just see what happens.