I have just read the article “Busyness Plan” by Sally Kempton and completely related to her message on so many levels. Ms. Kempton makes the point that we are often addicted to busyness in our “capitalist” society and frame of minds. She offers insight into finding the spaciousness in the gap between time and timeless. That perfectly blissful and peaceful place where you experience just “being”. She goes on to explain that activity is fine and essential but our state of mind while engaged in an activity can be peaceful. As in the story about the two monks, one scolds the other for sweeping instead of meditating. The other’s reply is, “you should know that there is one inside who is not busy”.
Accessing this is the key to bliss. It reminded me of my life lately.
I have always valued busyness. My family, culture and ego have always promoted and responded to busyness. It is a state of being that was ingrained and learned through proud comments of, “oh, I’ve been so busy today” or “today I worked on this, this and this, made supper, took the kids to swimming and painted the bathroom”. I have learned that being busy is a desirable, sought-after trait and way of being. I have been conditioned with the praise and adulation that follows a statement of “I’ve been so busy…” However, as I grew older and my children became more self-sufficient and eventually moved out on their own, I discovered I was burnt out emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was a mom, worked full time, took university courses, managed my home, volunteered for everything, had my boys in as many activities as we could cram into a week and thrived on the busyness of it all. It wasn’t until I realized when life slowed down that my state of health was a mess. I had anxiety, panic attacks, stomach problems, irritability, jealousy, anger, illogical fears, unhappiness, illness and unbelievable exhaustion. I was DONE!
I had been living on a diet of caffeine, sugar and adrenaline. My adrenaline switch had no off button. Out of desperation I began looking at myself, my patterns, habits, diet, and recognized a deep inner longing for peace, ease, relaxation and wholeness. This process of discovery took me to naturopathic doctors, alternative healers, informal group therapy and study groups, psychics, card readers, past life regressions, traditional doctors, exercise routines, more self-help books then I can count and eventually yoga. I felt such a strong calling to do yoga. My body craved it. As I began to practice at home to DVD lessons, my state of being began to alter. Eventually this search for peace took me through a 2 year detox, a new way of eating, and accidently an experiment in which, out of desperation, I left my ego behind and found a new point of view I called “the observer”. This brought me so much peace it was quite incredible the first time I “left my body” and viewed a stressful situation from this position of detachment. From this perspective I had clarity and calmness. I was rational and thoughtful. I was kinder, more patient, wiser and more in-tune with what was happening. Essentially, my ego got out of the way and the “one inside me who is not busy” was allowed to be present.
Accessing this state of being is a constant learning curve. I am more aware of the times I enter this state without effort. These are the times I am totally engaged in an activity and lose all sense of time. This is a blissful place to be. The first time I experienced this sense of timelessness was in childbirth. It is an incredible experience. A day could have passed, an hour, a minute I had no sense of time just “being”. I longed for this experience to happen again but never achieved it until I began to practice yoga and learn more about the ego and detachment. Since this time I have experienced this state doing more mundane activities such as cleaning my house, writing, painting, doing yoga, working in the garden, and talking with a friend. When time is irrelevant you know you have entered a place of peace.
I have dabbled with meditation but at this point I am not practicing it regularly. I have good intentions of beginning this practice and more fully developing a yogic state of being. Since I have been practicing yoga and taking the teacher training I have had many friends, colleagues and family comment on how calm I am. How nice to hear after being tormented by the ego and filled with anxiety and exhaustion.
I see the way I was living in others on a daily basis. I wish I could sit them down and tell them to take a time-out, breath and leave their ego behind. But I know we all have to find our own way in our own time. When the opportunity arises to discuss peacefulness I share my story and encourage friends and acquaintances to experiment with going to the place of the observer or “the one who is not busy”. When accessed it is pure bliss! Now I can say with confidence I am a happier person and she’s always been there, lost in the gap.
My wish for all who read this is the opportunity to access their place of peace.
Elaine K. is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.