“Slow down and See”:
How to Appreciate the Richness of Life
I’ve had mixed emotions this past week, as I’m sure many of you have. From holiday celebration to national tragedy, my heart and mind have been churning.
It’s easy to let the turmoil of the world weigh us down. And it’s just as easy to keep ourselves so busy that we don’t have to feel much of anything. But, there’s another option–a better one–based on the meaning of the holiday season and the gift that turmoil can offer. It is to slow down and embrace the richness that is all around us.
That’s what this week has given me—more focus, more reverence, more presence, and more of “me” in my life. It has halted me in my tracks and shown me what really matters once again. And my heart is bursting with gratitude.
So today I would like to share the words I’ve been coming back to all week, an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, This is How We Grow (2013). I wrote this in December, 2007, during one of my most turmoil-filled times, and it is my gift to you this holiday season. May you be filled with hope and love, and may you choose to slow down, see, and embrace the richness that life holds in abundance.
“Slow Down & See”
“Living life in the fast lane may get us where we think we want to be in a hurry, but how much do we miss as we fly on by? Everyone I know is busy. There are mouths to feed, bills to pay, things to get done, and hopefully some fun added in the mix as well. It’s not a bad thing to be busy; it’s part of life. But too often we fail to see the beauty and richness simply because we’re going too fast. The slower path is the path of patience, and the gift of the path of patience is the opportunity to see.
Slowing down, breathing deeply and taking a good, long look around enables us to see our gifts, lessons, blessings, and strengths, and to choose to appreciate and learn from them. Sometimes life’s circumstances will knock us out of our fast lane, but more often than not slowing down is a choice we each must make for ourselves. It usually takes conscious effort to slow down and see. As one author writes, “…calm is something you must go after, whereas stress comes after you” (Emotional Freedom, Judith Orloff,p. 38).
It is precisely when stress is coming after us that we most need to slow down and see. Seeing can calm us and open our eyes to what really matters. Seeing involves all the senses—hearing a bird’s song, smelling the love in the dinner on the stove, tasting the salt of a falling tear. By simply noticing the beauty of the world in which we live, we begin to actually see it.
Another way to see is to sit still and search within yourself. The following exercise I do with my clients might help:
Close your eyes, get comfortable, inhale, exhale. Imagine entering a dark room. This room represents your life—emotions, relationships, experiences, dreams, desires, and who you intend to become. You close the door behind you and are enveloped in deep blackness. Slowly, you take out a shiny silver flashlight and flip the switch. Using your flashlight, look around the room little by little. Illuminate every nook, corner, and crevice. Take a searching look at your life—your activities, time, relationships, stresses, successes, blessings, weaknesses, strengths. Be willing to see the areas that need improvement. Be willing to appreciate all the good you see. Be willing to see all the little things that you may have missed along the way. Do not judge. Instead, just focus on letting yourself see everything. Breathe. And let it all be.
As we exit the speeding highway and opt for the slower, scenic route, we find a richness to life, and we wonder how we’ve missed it all this time. We catch the beautiful moments shining right in front of us. And we see. We see our life. We see where we have been. We see where we are headed and have an opportunity to decide if we need to alter our course. We see one another. And when we see, we can’t help but be filled with gratitude and peace, for we no longer miss the blessed gifts sparkling in the gutter that once seemed to be our life. We bend down, see the jewel and choose to pick it up, and, in this way become a little bit richer each time we slow down and choose to see.” (from: This is How We Grow, Hibbert, coming 2013).
Reach out and share with us: What has your heart been saying to you lately? What helps you “appreciate life’s richness”? Please leave us a comment below! And–Warm and Love-filled Holiday Greetings to one and to all!