A lifetime wasted on the treadmill?

With only a few weeks left to the end of another year you might once again have thoughts of how “time flies” and feel a little melancholy sadness about the things you had on your to-do-list and have had to postpone.

Our culture is obsessed with time as we rush from one appointment to another or try to squash as much activity as possible into leisure hours.

During this week I did a workshop with participants from diverse establishments ranging from public service to production with some of the companies registering absenteeism due to illness of up to twenty per cent. Our hurried and just-in-time economies are not only unsustainable but are having a major impact on physical and mental health.

A life spent in haste is a wasted life

In Germany alone the number of mental illnesses, mainly job-burnout, has doubled in the past decade. In the United States a study revealed that a frighteningly high number of employees are experiencing symptoms of fatigue and burn-out. It is seldom talked about but many victims of the pandemic have been people with an already weakened immune system caused by work stress and other factors.

When your body is flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline you will have difficulty slowing down, relaxing and spending time alone in solitude.  Moreover if stress hormones remain at a constantly high level over months and even years your body’s natural defense systems and key body organs are being steadily weakened.

I know people who feel extremely uneasy if they don’t have the television in the house switched on 24-7 or don’t have loud music playing in the background. On a subliminal level the body senses never have time to recuperate.

Time for the soul to catch up

You think you might just google a quick question and already you have been hooked and sidetracked into  spending hours of precious “lifetime” on social media.

During my childhood my grandfather, a farmer in South Africa, loved to tell the story when he gave a lift  to an elderly Zulu man. After sitting quietly next to my grandfather in the pickup truck the Zulu man asked my grandfather to stop for a minute to help his soul catch up as it had been left behind by the speed at which they had been travelling.

The Zulu people at the time lived with their senses closely attuned to the laws of nature, getting up at sunrise and retiring for sleep soon after sunset. They often joked about the ways of the white man and why he always seemed  to be in a hurry and living life according to the clock.

Hurried people make mistakes

It’s an old wisdom. When we are in a hurry we are more likely to make mistakes. We miss important way markers along the road when we go into a stressed-out tunnel vision. We fail to hear the whispers from the universe telling us that we have placed our ladder against the wrong wall.

It brings to mind that in the pre-industrial era the main mode of transport for most people was walking from A to B with the body finding its natural rhythm during walking. The advances of technology have given mankind the possibility of flying from one continent to another within hours. We can cover a journey by car that took our ancestors weeks or months on horseback or carriage. The downside is that our mode of travel is contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and that the speed at which we are travelling is giving us less time to reflect and internalize the experience of the immediate surroundings.

Eternity lies in the full experience of the here-and now

The great spiritual masters throughout the ages teach us that eternity lies in the experience of the “here-and-now.” It is when we are aligned completely with the activity we are doing and time somehow seems to have become irrelevant. It is when we find peace in meditation and feel the immediacy of each in and out breath. Or, when we feel at one and in synchronicity with a natural sound of nature.

Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt on Pexels.com

One of the blessings of the pandemic lockdowns is that it has forced millions of people to slow down and reflect. What do I want to do with the rest of the days of my life that I have left? Do I really want to spend a good portion of my day stressing in a commute to an unfulfilling job while I’m not  seeing my children growing up? What contribution can I make to make a positive impact on the world?  What is depleting my mental and physical energy  and what is boosting my energy on all levels?

Life is too short to be wasted with things unimportant on the journey that is life.  More and more people are realizing the importance of slowing down, realigning and just enjoying the beauty of autumn colors reflected in a stream or the sound of migrating geese flying above.  Priorities are starting to shift and it’s a good thing.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Filed under meditation, mental health, mental-health

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