Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Growing up, Mum used to tell me I was ‘like a bull at a gate’. As I’ve matured, I’ve definitely slowed down, but I still tend towards the clumsy, noisy end of the spectrum. I stride. I clatter. I stub my toes.
For the past week, I’ve been paying more attention to my physical interactions with the world. I’ve been trying to be very very quiet. Not there’s-a-murderer-in-the-next-room stealthy. More like there’s-a-sick-child-lightly-sleeping-beside-me. I’ve felt just a tiny bit ninja. And it’s been fun.
Being quiet means going slower. It means looking where I’m about to put my hands, my feet. It means focusing on what I’m actually doing, how I’m actually moving. And this act of attention has rippled through to
~single tasking (e.g. not reading while eating)
~unclenching my teeth
~eating more slowly
~driving more alertly
~gaining a little core strength, maybe. It takes engaged muscles to walk quietly.
A week is not nearly enough time for this to be engrained as a habit. It’s definitely a practice, one I have to return to many many times a day. I have no desire to be invisible, but I actually like being a little bit ninja. It’s a very gentle thing, to move quietly through the world, instead of clattering and banging. It feels like a kindness, both to myself and those around me.
Maybe you’d like to try it too, and tell me how it goes.
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. ~ Mary Oliver