Recently I heard Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the popular books Wherever You Go, There You Are and Coming to Our Senses, say the phrase, “[we’re] running toward our deaths.” This really hit a chord for me. So much of the time we’re just running, whether that means physically moving fast throughout the day our just in our minds. Along the same vein, I often tell the people I work with, “It just doesn’t make sense to rush home to relax.”
This may sound trite and played out to some (note: recognize the judgment), but really, isn’t it time to open up to our lives right here, right now instead of always rushing to the next moment. In the big scheme of things we really are running toward our deaths, even if just in our minds.
When we take a step back, breathe, and look at this, most of us agree that this isn’t the way we want to live our lives.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that we’re stuck, stuck in very strong conditioned habits of doing things. Stuck in social dynamics that trigger reactions in us, below our awareness, to think and act the ways we’re trying to change. Have you ever noticed that you act a similar way when you go home for the holidays as you did when you were a kid? The same dynamics often play out because your mind gets triggered with old patterns and it’s quite unconscious.
Let me also say this. Changing this intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamic does not have to be this grand proclamation at the New Year. It doesn’t have to be a big resolution, which often doesn’t work anyway. Why? Because we set them up in ways that eventually seem overwhelming to our minds and so our motivation weans.
Instead, choose moments to begin changing the circuitry in your brains. Each time you stop and take a moment out of auto-pilot and pay attention to this present moment we begin changing the neural patterns of our brains. It may not seem like much at the moment, but research is pointing the way in showing us we can actually change our brains and therefore, change our minds and vice versa.
So, why wait for the New Year, start right now, in this moment. There’s no need to race toward our deaths or even rush home to relax, take a moment to breathe, relax and let be. When the mind says, “been there, done that,” choose to engage the attitude of beginner’s mind and see things as if for the first time.
I know I’ve mentioned this one before, and I’ll be putting up more videos, but for now, you can engage with this 5-Minute STOP practice if you would like guidance.
As always, please share your thoughts about what works for you in becoming more present to your life? Or what are some ways you think you’re “racing toward your death?” Every interaction below provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.