What a profound insight. It led me to wonder what I was rushing around for – Why do I always feel that I am in a hurry?
Well, I had to laugh at the answer! I rush off in the morning to go practice yoga, and then I rush home to sit and meditate, and then I rush through meditation to rush off to walk the dog, and then I hurry the dog home so can hurry through paperwork and cooking lunch so I can walk quickly to work. In all of my attempts to slow down, I still managed to somehow speed up. I hurry up so I can slow down, I hurry now so I can relax later, I hurry through this moment so I can be present in the next. Oh, how silly I am!
There was a time in my life where slowing down came much more naturally to me. Living in Northern Thailand, where the pace of life is more mellow than North America, it was much easier to see the world with fresh eyes, appreciating all that the present moment had to offer. In a culture that lives so differently then we do, I walked down the city streets of Chiang Mai in awe of all that I saw, smelled, and tasted. I worked little and earned little and I was so happy. I was never in a rush. My biggest decisions in a day were "Do I want the pineapple shake or the mango shake? Green curry or Red curry?"
Thai culture kept my life fairly simple. It was cheaper to eat out than to cook for yourself. I had a laundry lady who washed, dried, and folded my clothes. The city was small enough that I could bike everywhere. The Rasta bar was around the corner from where I lived – they played Bob Marley every night – I was in heaven. The Thai phrase "Mai Pen Rai" sums up Thai life quite nicely – it literally means "no worries."
When I returned to North America, I vowed to bring a little piece of Mai Pen Rai back to my life in Canada. I wanted to live simply here, no rushing, no worries. And while I cook, clean, and do my own laundry, I am blessed enough to be able to have the space to slow down and yet I still manage to fill that space with spiritual to-do lists and zen activities.
So this morning, I biked slower to yoga, enjoying the quarter moon still out at 5:45 am. I let myself ride in a lower gear, not peddling so hard, no longer pushing to get to my destination. Once, when I was on a meditation retreat, a monk told me of spiritual practice that I needed try – One Gear Lower, he called it. Just shift into a lower gear and slow down. I remembered his words this morning. One gear lower, slow down.
I practiced yoga with much less attachment to how many poses I "got done." I biked home slowly, enjoying the morning sun that was now awake for the day. I wrote this blog leisurely, while watching a cat bath in the sun and a dog chew on a bone. So content, they are, so Mai Pen Rai.
And now, I will slowly walk the dog, one gear lower. Ahhhh, how I have missed Mai Pen Rai.