The great tragedy of speed as an answer to the complexities and responsibilities of existence is that very soon we cannot recognize anything or anyone who is not traveling at the same velocity as we are. We see only those moving in the same whirling orbit and only those moving with the same urgency. Soon we begin to suffer a form of amnesia, caused by the blurred vision of velocity itself, where those germane to our humanity are dropped from our minds one by one. David Whyte
Over the years of study and contemplative wisdom practices, the pace of hurriedness that encircled my own life underwent what I call a forced-transformation. That’s when the visitors from beyond wave their wand and magically life stops being constructed on the sandy mound we think is a safe foundation. When this constructed house falls, shock sets in, followed by utter quietness. So silent that the pain once pushed away and ignored, begins to surface and is felt. The pain scale charts used in medicine do not have this level of pain as a choice, it’s off the chart.
When I came upon this writing from David Whyte, I understood to my bones what the essence of this velocity can mean and how it related to my own life. The difficulty to just drop into the gap between thoughts, feelings, and sensations of my mind within this type of speediness seems frightening and as if things would fall apart if not kept at that pace. But as the universe within me would have it, I had to face the dropping away of my self-constructed velocity and stay put. Pema Chodron calls this taking your seat and suggests a slogan to address this as: Sit. Stay. Heal.
Last year, I experienced this proverbial “seat”. Over and over I returned to my breath and brought to life all the study and teaching I have been very fortunate to have encountered. Taking my seat and welcoming the silent whispers that had always been gently speaking, I realized that without taking genuine interest in the quiet solitude within me, that Socrates might be right, the unexamined life is not worth living. What a tragedy that would mean and not an option I would want to consider. Living has no meaning in speed, acquiring more money in a bank account, another degree or promotion, getting a “perfect” mate, etc.. but has everything to do with the cultivation of deep attention to awareness moment to moment.
Imagine a world where we stop and rest within a space of stillness unencumbered by constant activity. Imagine your day as you go from one task to the next and that if between each task, you stop and relax with a few breaths and feel into your body and with intention go to the next. Actually intending with attention just how precious your life is and the life of those who choose to be with you. All to often, my patients reflect the annoyances, critics, and judgments of their partner and completely loose sight of the gift of being partnered. The relationship seems trivial and inconvenient as if life owes them something more impressive and perfect.
The sudden stopping my life took last year that put me firmly on my “seat”, created the conditions for me to sit, stay, and heal. Velocity may have its place for Olympians and racecar drivers, but most of us live our lives with this sort of inward velocity. If your life reflects repeated issues, well, just call that velocity. The antidote I recommend is: Sit. Stay. Heal. Then, and maybe then, the quiet whispers once ignored will be the lens you see with, as a guide sent from the beyond.
Sherri Aikin is a Fellow of Integrative Medicine, Nurse Practitioner, Sex Counselor, Mindfulness Facilitator, and Life Coach.
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