The most difficult of all habits to change is that of hurrying. What a shame that modern life has pressed us to the point where it has become a compulsion. But here’s an opportunity to shift the way your brain works. Hurrying speeds you away from the present moment, expressing a wish to be in the future because maybe you’ll be late. To counter it, master Alexander teacher Walter Carrington tells his students to repeat each time they begin an action: “I have time.”
Then you can remind yourself to attend to your Body Being as you press forward with your work. Why not release the tensions gathered at the back of your neck, shoulders, and lower back before you commit to the next task? You have every right to interrupt whatever you are doing to stretch out of the fixed position you are in and into the present moment.
You may well ask, “How can I be expected to stay in the present moment when I need to finish this job?” When you have to get something done in a hurry and there’s no time to lose, try these five steps:
First, acknowledge how you really feel about the job. Hate it or love it, let your reactions appear in your conscious awareness. Accept them, whatever they may be. “That’s how it is at this moment.”
Second, turn to the only remaining place where freedom is available: within yourself. Notice the thoughts that are a-thinking in you and turn them to focus on the job in front of you.
Third, bring your attention to the moves your hands are making. Acknowledge their superior intelligence, and the many things they know how to do without your thinking about it. Sense the tapping of your fingers on computer, ipad, or cellphone; revel in the warm soapy water you are washing in; or feel how the strong arm and back muscles engage as you lift something heavy or press a freshly glued object together.
Fourth, begin to explore other parts of your body, starting with the back of your neck, where stress tightens your muscles into tough guy-ropes that pull the head forward and down out of alignment. Let your thought move wherever the body moves, seeking out the tense corners and inviting release.
Fifth, if you are sitting, interrupt whatever you are doing from time to time, no matter how important, to get up or at least stretch out and away from the position you are in. Since everything is connected in the mind/body continuum, you might be surprised to what extent you can relieve your stressed-out system with a brief, non-essential walk down the hall, a peek out the window at the larger world, or even a seriously deep sigh that engages you right down to the toes.
In other words, do anything to interrupt the deadening bond that glues all your attention to what you’re writing, reading, cooking, chopping, building. Truly, the body possesses wisdom that thought doesn’t understand. We can practice listening to it and allow ourselves to expand into Body Consciousness. “I have time” helps us do just that.
If you enjoyed this excerpt from my new book, Awakening Body Consciousness, Seven Steps to Integrating Body Mind and Heart, consider ordering it. Why? It can offer you a new definition of wellness. It is about coming alive to our Body Being—the nexus where soul and spirit connect with the actively thrumming, perpetually circulating energy of life within us.
“Why seek spirit through the body?” you might ask. Think of it this way: our DNA, our psyche, the hands that create and the minds that invent, all are aspects of the living body and dependent upon its awareness, intuition, and sense of self-in-action. Awakening Body Consciousness offers many mental and physical exercises gathered from my own personal experience, as well as from sages of past centuries, and cutting-edge neuroscientists.
Based on the author’s many years of bodywork with master teachers and studies of world religions and ritual practices, psychology, neuroscience, Tai chi, Qigong and the Alexander Technique, Awakening Body Consciousness presents seven practical steps to develop a new experience of unity in body, soul and spirit. Through the practice of attention to our own presence-in-the-world, united with the heart’s sense of truth and the mind’s best attention, readers can discover a practical path toward vibrant physical, mental, and spiritual health.