This article by Mary Claire O’Neal was chosen as one of the Intent.com articles of the week, 8/7/09.
M. K. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” One of the things Gandhi may be referring to is slowing down enough to listen. Really listen. “Slow down to listen to what?” you may ask. My answer would be many voices and yet one voice: That still, small voice within, or the same situation that presents itself over and over, or doors opening or closing, or what a child is saying with his behavior.
Slowing down to the speed of life can mean slowing down enough to pull myself out of autopilot—out of a routine, out of behaviors and ways of thinking that no longer work for me, out of reactions that can create separation instead of unity.
Slowing down to the speed of life can mean waking up, being fully alive right now, knowing that in every moment resides that choice to be awake. I have found that what I need to know is within me and also spoken through life all around me, if I’m paying attention. Life is filled with miracles and magic, but unless I am listening and watching, even the miracles will be missed.
Something I’ve found refreshing is to just sit quietly for a few minutes, away from the seduction of technology (stripped of my computer or phone) and listen to the silence or just to my heart beating. Contemplative walks can be a wonderful time for me to get creative ideas. Being out in nature is a way that many people find the silence and peace to listen.
Slowing down can also mean waking up to the wonder of life again. Listening to my heart when it says, “Take a break, play, be silly!” But it’s so easy to say, “ I don’t have the time.” And it’s so easy to see another day fly by without that joy. Having stuff coming at us all the time is a common way not to listen. Daily routines can become ruts that can distract us from the promptings of our hearts or the still, small voice within.
When slowing down, one can more clearly see things that need attention in life. It might be that a relationship or friendship needs some quality time. What might need attention is the physical part of me—needing more exercise or healthy eating. I might be reminded of a letter or phone call that’s been put off for later or a creative project that needs my attention.
When people have regrets at the end of their lives, it’s usually not that they would have liked to have worked one more day (even if their work was a joy for them). It’s usually, “I wish I had said, ‘I love you’ more” or “I wish I had been kinder, more compassionate.” When one really listens, promptings can become fulfilling action instead of regrets.
© Mary Claire O’Neal
Mary Claire O’Neal has been a nationally known communication consultant for over 15 years, speaker, certified coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com