Slowing. It’s my not a new year’s resolution commitment for 2012.
I am presently in the conscious incompetence phase of the change process. In other words, despite my good intentions, I almost constantly find myself in a hurry. From the moment I get out of bed I’m racing. I’ve got my shower process down to a few minutes. Breakfast is practically instant. Then I catch myself, take my foot off the gas and consciously slow down.
Hurry takes me away from my present sense of place, creating a hum of anxiety about getting to the next place. Hurry creates an internal pace of spirit which robs ears of hearing and eyes of seeing. Hurry forces all my faculties to focus on the next stop instead of the now place. The tragic condition creates the inner consequence of never being present to the present.
Slowing offers an antidote to the anxiety fueling my pace, reminding me life is not a race but a grace. Consciously slowing down teaches me the practice of presencing myself to the present. This is not so much about “practicing the presence of God,” as it is presencing the practice of God. Slowing slowly teaches me that the primary practice of God comes down to simply being present. Emmanuel, right?
So what does presencing look like? Two words capture it: gentle attentiveness. Two words also tend to capture the great problem: anxious distraction.
What contributes to anxious distraction?
Being somewhere I’m not with someone other than who I am with.
What contributes to gentle attentiveness?
Getting in touch with my breathing
Paying attention to my five senses
Refusing to touch my iPhone when I am with another person
Being where I am with who I am with.
I am convinced though that the solution does not lie with a lot of do’s and don’ts. It is about cultivating a new disposition. The Psalmist gets it. “Be still and know that I am God,” and “I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.” (see Psalm 46 and 131)
I am learning it starts with slowing down; something anyone can do in any place at any time. Give it a try and tell me what you think.