A long time ago, I read a filler in Reader’s Digest that remains fresh in my memory even today. It went something like this: Every morning, when the sun rises, a gazelle wakes up knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion or it could be killed. Every morning a lion awakens knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun rises in the east, you had better be running.
Sounds familiar? You bet! There’s something of a lion and a gazelle in each of us. Every morning, when we get up and go about accomplishing tasks and fulfilling duties, we’re either chasing some goal or escaping some responsibility. We’re either fighting the past or struggling to shape the future. We’re either avoiding some pain and or hankering after some pleasure. But whatever it is that we’re doing, we rarely stop to think about it.
An ad campaign for a tea brand used to put this point across aptly when it urged viewers to “wake up” and not just get up every morning. Contemplate the deeper meaning behind this and you will realize that indeed that’s what most of us do—go about our tasks as if blind-folded. We’re so caught up in our lives that rarely do we pause to think about what we’re doing and why.
New Year, New You
The beginning of the New Year is a good opportunity to break away from the thoughtless norms. I suggest that this year, instead of making resolutions to chase success or escape temptations, just stop… and think. On second thoughts, don’t even think. Just stop!
Notice your thoughts, past and future, and let go of them gently, becoming aware of the present moment. Clear your mind of all goals. Whenever your catch yourself thinking about running and chasing, just stop and observe that ‘self’. As you do so, focus on your incoming and outgoing breath for a minute or two.
Then, even as you carry on with your daily chores, continue to observe yourself. Stop identifying with your mental chatter and become the witness of your thoughts and feelings, your actions and reactions without judgment or condemnation. As you do this, you will experience a sort of peace descending on your being… a peace you may not have experienced in a long time.
Time to meet yourself
It is my conviction that once you experience the peace that comes from simply being, you will feel a subtle transformation. The best part is that this transformation is effortless—no resolutions, no goals, no dogged determination, simply staying in the state of quiet awareness and remaining alert to your thoughts.
As you do this regularly, you’ll probably still continue to chase and run, but you will do it with an awareness—not out of habit or compulsion. Then, even without making it a goal, you will go to that quiet place in your mind often, where you meet yourself.
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