Overwhelmed? Overloaded? Over-scheduled? Overstimulated? We are bombarded every single day with information from a multitude of sources, and our minds have been trained to absorb this onslaught, this rapid-fire of words and images and sounds. As if this isn’t enough to overwhelm, most of us also have an insane To-Do List. Much is expected and much needs to be done, often just to catch up.
All of this can be hard enough to navigate on its own; when you throw in a cancer diagnosis, our stress levels amplify. Many of our clients relate that they are perpetually stressed in their attempt to maintain their “old life” while going through the rigors of cancer treatment. Many have discovered that, in the midst of all this business of doing, they have lost sight of what really matters.
Making Time for the Heart
I’ve been reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by one of my all-time favorite authors, Wayne Muller. That he lives in one of my most beloved cities in the U.S. – Santa Fe – is just one of the things I like about this man. I appreciate his direct approach, his simple yet deeply insightful way of looking at this crazy, full-throttle world we live in. He reminds us that there are different kinds of time: mental time and emotional time. Mind time and heart time. Our culture, he points out, has taught us to live mostly in “mind time.” Our heads have been trained to keep up with this fast-paced information age we live in, and our “heart time” suffers because it cannot travel at light speed. It needs a slower rhythm “to process, understand, and allow in the rich array of disparate feelings, emotions, spiritual events, however pleasant or deeply painful” they may be. We need unhurried time to digest and fully appreciate the life we are living.
The guidance of the human heart is one of the tools we have been given to teach us about how to experience time. Wayne Muller challenges us to think of time not as something we use or have but how we might be used or taught by time itself. At the end of the chapter “The Speed of the Mind and Heart,” he offers a poem by Mark Nepo, “The Practice Before The Practice.” It’s a poem about being before doing. My favorite lines are:
…In Africa, before the
children are allowed to drum, they must rub
each part of the skin and wood and dream
of the animals whose hearts will guide their
Going at a Slower Pace
Perpetually stressed? Consider traveling a bit more at the leisurely speed of the heart. At Healing Icons, we encourage quiet creative practices that allow open spaces where stresses can soften and begin to disappear.
What are some of the things you do to let go of stress? Share it with us in a comment below.