No Hurry, No Pause.
In the natural rhythm of life energy, there is no hurry and no pause.
– Breema’s Nine Principles of Harmony
This week I thought I would take a break from the anatomical musings and just share a quote I’ve been pondering. I have come across different variations of this quote over the years, but I like the simplicity of this one. It addresses our relationship to time, which for many of us can be categorized as “love-hate”, by reminding us to stay fully present. We all experience anxiety on a daily basis about time, from the most mundane worry like traffic to the larger worries like work-life balance. The idea of “no hurry, no pause” reminds us to slow down, focus on the present moment and follow a more natural rhythm and flow. My life is so much more enjoyable when I move through it mindfully, completely attentive to what I am doing at that moment. When I am fully present, I do not experience the anxiety of passing time. Instead, time seems to disappear.
The key for me seems to be finding activities that make it easy to be fully present and then practicing to be more fully present during other activities until this is my dominant mode of being. When I am massaging, time seems to stop altogether, because it puts me in a flow state: I’m focused, in rhythm, and fully present. Rather than worrying about having to address the whole body in ninety minutes, I allow myself to fully experience each stroke, each muscle as I tend to it. Every movement is my sole purpose at that moment. Massage is where I start, since I find it easy to be present and genuinely enjoy doing it. You can start with anything as long as you don’t have to work at being in the moment. Gardening, jigsaw puzzles and hiking are other ways that make time disappear for me. Once I realized how easy it was to be fully present doing these types of activities, I started trying to practice achieving this state of calm at other times.
As a runner, I have learned to apply a sense of timelessness to my daily runs. Although this was initially difficult, focusing on the present moment allows me to enjoy each stage of my run. During a race, if I start thinking about the finish line and how many miles away it is, I lose my mental control. By focusing on the future, I am trying to speed up time which only makes the present moment seem eternal. Most runners will tell you the roadblocks are in the mind. I struggled during training for my first marathon a few years ago until I read Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham. This book helped me to utilize the “no hurry, no pause” principle, until I was able to consistently run over 20 miles without allowing periodic discomfort to break the flow. The key is to focus on the present moment without attaching judgement, by just allowing yourself to fully experience it. “Leaning in with curiosity” is how the author frames it. Full disclosure: he is a Buddhist monk, so for most of us it’s not as easy as he makes it sound. “Leaning in” gets easier with practice.
I practiced this idea of “no hurry, no pause” through countless training runs but never in a race. At mile 18 of the New York City Marathon, I was desperately tired, my legs were heavy and my energy was waning. Rather than panicking that I had over an hour left to run, I just paid attention to the moment without judging it good or bad. I listened to my own breathing. I shook my arms out for a moment as I ran and noticed the release in my biceps. I took an orange slice from a little kid handing them out. I watched the ponytail of the runner in front of me doing a figure eight, and somehow I managed to suspend my anxiety about the eight miles that lay ahead of me. I just was, where I was.
“No hurry, no pause” can be powerful when applied to daily life. We are where we are, in the here and now. Nothing is as important as whatever we are doing this moment. Even though I can’t always escape my anxieties about time, I practice. I savor the moment and I return to full presence.