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from The Way to God for Today by Anthony De Mello . . .
There is no formula for instant peace. You must make the time to cultivate peace. But some of you might be thinking, “I don’t have the time to give to it.” For those of you who think this way, I suggest trying a simple practice for quieting the mind that you can do while driving your car. As you drive along, simply practice getting the feel of the steering wheel in your hands. Get the feel of the seat of the car beneath you. Sense the feeling of your feet touching your shoes. In short, get in touch with your body as you drive along. Then, when you’ve parked the car and are walking to your destination, feel the movement of your body while you’re walking.
This will quiet you down enough to locate the present moment, and hopefully, you will get a taste of peace that this exercise facilitates, and the loveliness of that taste will motivate you sufficiently to go deeper, by sitting down and devoting more time to practicing getting in touch with the sensations in your body for the peace it brings. Here is how people in the East do it:
Let me tell you some of the benefits from doing this exercise, although ordinarily in the East mystics won’t tell you. They simply say, “Do it, and you will see.” But here is what’s likely to happen to you if you do this exercise?
The first thing is, you’re going to become present. You’re going to get into the present moment. You are going to be more aware, more awake, more fully alive, here and now, and being fully present is an extraordinary experience to have.
As a result, you are going to function more fully. If you are one of those people who cannot remember where they’ve placed things, or one who is always tense and hurried and cannot concentrate or retain information, this exercise will help alleviate those deficits.
Let me tell you about a great guru who was talking to a group of business executives. He said to them, “Just as a fish suffocates and perishes on dry land, so you will perish if your life becomes entangled in worldly affairs. The fish must get back to the water if it wishes to live; you must get back to your heart.”
So, these business executives asked, “You mean we have to abandon our businesses and get ourselves to a monastery?
“No, no,” the guru said. “I didn’t say get to a monastery. Hold on to your businesses but get back to your hearts.” Getting back to your heart does not mean becoming a mystic. Not at all. It means to come home to yourself, which simply means to get back to the present moment where you are alive.
Another thing this simple exercise will do for you is to slow you down. Speed can be a wonderful thing. Think of a race car zooming around a track or a jet plane soaring through the air or an Olympic athlete sprinting across the finish line. But when speed becomes hurry, it becomes a poison. The Japanese have a saying: The day you stop traveling you will arrive. I would put it this way: The day you stop rushing around you will arrive. Many of us push ourselves like a schoolteacher pushing her students through a museum, demanding they go faster, shouting, “Hurry up. If we take time to stop and look, we won’t see it all.”
Isn’t that a parable for our times, depicting the life most people are living? It’s like the driver speeding madly along to reach his destination, but when his wife tells him he’s taken the wrong road, he says, “Don’t bother me, I’m making great time.”
This is one way we poison our lives, but this exercise can be an antidote to the hurry. It can start to slow us down, and we can slow you down even more by adding these steps in: Look at how long it takes you to drive to work, and if it takes 20 minutes, drive in the slow lane and arrive in 25 minutes instead of 20. Look at how long it takes you to have breakfast, and if it takes10 minutes, make it 12. Do this with other tasks as well and commend yourself for every minute you add on to anything you’re doing to slow yourself down.
Try these exercises for one week and you’ll see a welcomed difference in yourself. The more you slow down and are present, the more your quality of life will change. You will begin to see things differently because you will be different. You will see things you’ve never seen before. You will react differently. In fact, you will react less and act more. You will be much more energetic, much more alive. You will be rid of your fear of failure. Your tensions about succeeding will vanish and you will be able to be yourself. You will relax, no longer driving with your brakes on. Now that’s human living for you and all it take is a little willingness to practice.