Do you know the feeling of those days where nothing really passes through the mind? A sort of empty space without much running through it? After a long time advocating for the usefulness of being busy, I have finally learnt to love those moments! I am now more and more convinced that life could be highly improved if we were capable of letting some emptiness in our lives.
We live in a society that emphasises business.
Have you ever used the word “I am busy” to get out of any situation? Loads of people use it in many contexts and it works all the time. Nobody would question your being busy. On the contrary, you can use it to get out of a conversation, to avoid going to a friend’s improv, or to justify your desire to spend the evening by yourself.
But what is the hype beyond this business?
Perhaps being busy provides a sense of justification and indulgence, something to look at when you feel uncomfortable about an issue. Or perhaps being busy gives a sense of fulfilment when you look back at how you used your time at the end of the day. In any case, I believe the common idea of busy-ness is overrated.
So, why do people want to be busy? To understand that I had a look around.
I have a good number of friends and relatives around me who struggle with the idea of not being busy. All of them are great people and achievers in their own way. Yet they all struggle with letting go.
In the small sample of human examples I could get the ways of being busy vary. The most common ones include overworking, sorting out their apartment too much, and heading to the gym whenever a free slot in the agenda arises. I do not know the deep reasons why the need to feel busy, yet I can testify that in the moments we spent together when inactivity suddenly rose, the tension coming from not being busy was palpable. Something had to be done to restore busy-ness.
In my life time I had the privilege to be in contact with an absolute guru of not feeling guilty for not being busy: my girlfriend.
Before knowing her I could certainly include myself in the category of busy-ness lovers. Then, my newly found guru enlightened me to the reality that busy-ness is often just plain distraction. A plain excuse to run away from achieving something valuable.
What I have learnt from her is that not being always busy does not necessarily kill productivity, it just shifts it to what is more valuable for us. Perhaps less gets done, I admit it, but what we focus on would probably matter more if we are not afraid of having empty time.
Here are some examples of where I have found taking your time to be the most valuable.
Deciding what to do in your life. Being busy might sound productive in the immediate, but it has devastating effects in the long-run. It is impossible to clearly imagine your future life, if you do not allow yourself with enough easy time to clearly see it. Also, if you feel the need to be constantly busy you would probably be driven by the need to fulfil external expectations. Bad idea.
Writing. Taking time is fundamental for the writing process. I do not how you feel, but for me it is completely impossible to do some decent writing when being busy. In that mental space my creativity simply goes away when I do not let time for the unconscious to develop stories and ideas.
Relationships. I have recently read that one of the best thing we could to to improve our relationship with somebody is to give them our full attention. Giving attention to others is the best way to make them feel valuable. Attention, of course, require time.
Connection. Taking time is also a fundamental healing process. Without taking time out our brains do not have the chance to review all they have been up to recently. Yet, there is also a deeper reason. When we take time to be by ourselves we do not base our value on something we are doing. We allow for an exception to the rule of judging ourselves based on our output. “What have you done today? Nothing, and it felt wonderful!”
So, my friends. As you can see there is plenty to gain from letting busy-ness go.
Have you got any example where doing less has improved your life or boosted your creative work?
Have fun enjoying your time!
As you might be aware the next few days might be of particular importance for the future of human societies on this planet. In the next two weeks a UN Climate Summit will be held in Paris. In this occasion governments from around the world will meet up to decide a global action against climate change.
There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is already a reality.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated different possible scenarios for climate change. All of them involve a temperature rise (from 0.6 to 4 more grades Celsius on average according to the scenario) [see table below].
Many different schools of thoughts, both religious and secular, came-up with the conclusion that we live in an inter-connected reality where the well-being of the whole system depends on the actions of the individuals. In other words we inter-are, as zen master Tich Nhat Hanh would put it. I could not agree more.
I believe there is an interesting parallelism between the scenarios developed by the IPCC and the vision of inter-dependence of philosophical and religious traditions.
This period of in history is a big chance for all of us to realise more deeply this fundamental truth. What we do affects others, both across the world and across generations. What we have is a big chance to recognise this inter-dependence and to change our behaviour on this planet to ensure we enter a more sustainable path. It is a duty we have for the whole of life really.
I hope this chance will be taken by both the world’s population and by the world’s politicians. I would love to see the walls that divide us to fall when we recognise that change is needed for everybody’s future survival and well-being.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh [him again, I know!] asked all mindfulness to practitioners to make personal commitments for environmental change. These might include joining a march, fasting from meat or diary products, wear a green ribbon, raise awareness as so on. Similar needs to raise awareness and take concrete actions were raised by Pope Francis. Anyway, independently of your political or religious views I would encourage to take action as well to raise awareness on this important issue.
We live in a beautiful planet. If you think about it, the changes of having a planet as beautiful as the one we have we pretty damn low. Furthermore this planet is our home, it is the source of our life and especially it is the only one we have. It is key that we treat it with respect and wisdom.
If you still are not convinced about why we need to love our planet, here are some nice pictures of it which will help you remembering..
And this is me being totally awesome during my first bike ride when I was 14!!!
Table 1: IPCC estimates of future temperature rise
|Temperature Change||Sea Level Rise)|
|(°C at 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999)a||(m at 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999)|
|Case||Best estimate||Likely range||Model-based range excluding future|
|rapid dynamical changes in ice flow|
|Constant Year 2000 concentrationsb||0.6||0.3 – 0.9||NA|
|B1 scenario||1.8||1.1 – 2.9||0.18 – 0.38|
|A1T scenario||2.4||1.4 – 3.8||0.20 – 0.45|
|B2 scenario||2.4||1.4 – 3.8||0.20 – 0.43|
|A1B scenario||2.8||1.7 – 4.4||0.21 – 0.48|
|A2 scenario||3.4||2.0 – 5.4||0.23 – 0.51|
|A1FI scenario||4.0||2.4 – 6.4||0.26 – 0.59|
I deeply sorry for this city I love.
I wanted to write, to write a lot.
I wanted to speak about people like me,
and about the cowards who took their lives.
I wanted to write about the discomfort
that one can feel now in a big city
upon hearing the minimum noise.
I wanted to speak about the West
and its ability
to generates its own enemies.
I wanted to write, to write a lot.
A river of words about all,
about people I knew, even if barely,
about people who are now gone.
I prefer to be quiet,
at least for this time,
and let the world cry its children.
In Photo “Peace for Paris” by Jean Julien
“While you proclaim peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your Heart.” ~St. Francis of Assisi
There was a time when I used to be scared of cats. I simply did not know how to approach them. All the time I was trying to approach them they could simply feel the scared and uncertain energy I was bringing with me. No wonders they were either scratching me or running away. What was their alternative? They were just reacting to a feeling they could not understand. Why carry so much weight and burden if everything is fine and the intention is just to create a true contact? No wonders it wasn’t working! A similar approach occurs when we try to speak with our heart. How can we pretend it to be open, wide, wise and solid, when we approach it with a mistrusting attitude? Because the heart is very much like a cat. It is quiet, curious, playful, yet it speaks its own language. It has its own timing. There is no way to force a cat, as there is no way of forcing our heart. It simply has to play its own way. Our duty is simply to approach it with arms wide open. Just allowing it to perform its magic in a language empty of words. And then what happens? We become its silent servant. When it plays, we play. When it cries, we cry. When it rejoices, we rejoice. From this open attitude the heart will know how to repay back our trust. We are finally listening to what it has to say. And we do it its own way.
From the place where no word has ever been spoken
when you don’t think life just cracks open,
with endless paths, love and sometimes cries
all unfolding in front of your eyes.
And don’t judge yourself by stains of past ink
’cause in less than a blink even people pass by.
Just the time of saying “I love you” and they say good bye.
But our head make life like unravelling a skein
yet the Spirit knows no good nor bad, not merit nor blame,
no space for lost, mine or thy,
In Truth he knows nothing, not even I.
You see the no-sense to let meaning drag you down,
the Heart already loves, without knowing how.
So let yourself open up and ask for no crown,
wholeheartedly go forward, we are no king prawn!
We are like the sky, allowing stars to stay,
everyday we build each other, playing with cosmic clay.
And the Self will forgive you if you call yourself a man,
you can be John or Mary every now and then!
Just remember the galaxies way up our feet
our crazy thinking won’t stop their heat.
So in life don’t be bothered by that or this
remain as loving and unmoving Peace.