This simple phrase can have different meanings depending on how you look at it.
Treasure the time we have.
Time for finding treasure.
Time has shapeshifted for all of us right now. Staying at home more than ever before. Spending more time alone. Yet still connected. Work time may look very different now, whether you are still working in the world, or working from home, or not. Parenting 24/7. Cooking more meals. Distance learning. Finding new ways to do things safely, new ways to spend our time. Pandemic projects. Virtual yoga studios. Zoom meetings … So many challenges. So many emotions.
And already I see time beginning to shapeshift again, more quickly for some than for others, as we contemplate and anticipate moving out of self-isolation. How will it look to you as you go back into the world in the coming weeks? How will you feel? How will this time, all it's joys and fears and challenges, have transformed the way you see yourself and how you live your life?
Before it changes again, I feel like it's important to treasure this unique time, to be tuned into the opportunities it offers, to absorb and remember the learnings.
There was a time when I wanted more time for myself, when I wanted my life to be transformed into something different.
I used work in a very busy, high-pressure job, in a supportive but stressful environment. The last 5 years of the job were in New York City where it takes a lot of energy to live and work. There were teams to be coached, plans to be made, projects to be completed, meetings after meetings, presentations to be prepared for those meetings, and backups for those presentations. I could never get to my own work until around 5 pm. For 15 years, I worked long hours, rarely leaving the office before 7 pm. I worked most weekends, catching up on the hundreds of emails I received each week, preparing for all the meetings of the following week. My Saturday mornings were always spent sitting in bed working on my computer. Fortunately my husband is extraordinarily supportive, and kindly brought me breakfast in bed.
I was conscious of the fact that I was living on an energy that was not my own. I did what I could to stay balanced. But I used to wish I would get sick so I could stay home and do nothing (how crazy is that?!?). I’m blessed with excellent health so I’ve hardly taken a sick day in my life.
So I lived and worked for vacations. But the first 3-4 days of any vacation were always recovery from the intense lifestyle (and still checking emails…) instead of fully enjoying the break.
I wanted time away from my everyday life. Time for self care. Time for soul care. Time to treasure.
I got my wish. I'm still healthy. But I don’t have that high-pressure lifestyle anymore. I have worked from home for several years now. And I have come to savour the luxury of my time. It’s all my own. My treasure time.
The first year or two after my corporate-career period was an intense time of transformation. I took this time to forge a new path and to find my way to a happier heart, a quieter mind, more balance, clarity, creativity. Using the tools of yoga and meditation I began learning to marvel in the moment, to unitask and give my complete attention to the one thing I was doing, to listen to my body, mind and spirit as they whispered messages so important but so subtle that I needed to get quiet and deeply listen to hear them…and then trust myself to take them and use them as nuggets of wisdom, as notes from the Universe.
This is the time we are living right now. An opportunity to slow down, get quiet, be aware of time, and discover its gifts. Even in the midst of the multiple challenges we face. I invite you to see this time as a unique and rare opportunity to be treasured, and to be open to the treasures this time can offer you, the lessons that can be learned, the opportunities for transformation.
And to use it to be more fully in yourself and in your present moment. Because that’s all there really is. "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift... that's why they call it the present." (possibly said by Eleanore Roosevelt)
Here are two meditative practices to help you to tune in to the present moment, to listen deeply and to anchor this time in your memory as time treasured.
1. Get quiet, just listen…and just be here
One of the ways I found to ground myself while living that stressful life in New York was to listen to the city. I wanted to HEAR it instead of just bustling and rushing around, so that I could FEEL it and remember it. So I sat and I listened. And I wrote what I was hearing as a way to really be there, undistracted, and fully present to the sounds as they came into the moment.
It’s amazing what you notice when you are really paying attention. Even the silence is not silent. You just have to listen a little more closely.
Some of the places where I listened:
You can listen anywhere. Any room in your home. Your yard or balcony. Your front porch. A park or forest near by. Here’s how you can do it. It's very simple and takes 10-15 minutes. But you may want to stay longer…
Here is a little extract from my front stoop listening:
…Traffic helicopters circulating and traversing, buzzing, pulsating, louder overhead, often, often. Clanking of bottles in garbage cans. Dog collars clatter against their leashes and sneakers softly patter, human/canine couples walking. Dogs quiet, mostly, a bark from somewhere down the street. The piano across the street, practicing, not a beginner at all. Sweet. Car door slamming, engine starting, a motor engaged, a car leaves its spot. Gone. Silence. But not silent. The sharp short beep of car a car alarm, lock clicking. Conversations of various decibels, children chattering, small groups of people walk by. Seemingly solitary walkers talking to companions on their phone, droning. Again. Soft swish, bicycle wheels. Distant sirens. Birds, twittering, singing, flapping. Neighbours chatting on their stoop. Bottles clanking and a trolly cart squeaking. Footsteps. The light breeze ruffles leaves and branches overhead. Keys clank, arriving. The constant hum of air conditioners….
As I read this, I am transported right back to my front stoop, and I remember how I was feeling in the moment, exactly what was going on in my life.
Where will you sit and listen?
2. Deeper listening…to find those inner treasures
This external listening practice helps to build your concentration and awareness to allow you to practice a deeper, internal listening. You can practice that internal listening with mindfulness meditation, listening to your breathing, getting quiet enough and focused enough to hear your heart beat. This quiet, focused state is when the treasure comes, the nuggets of wisdom, the clarity, the inspiration. Here's how:
The more you practice this simple yet powerful meditation, the more aware you will become and the more you will be able to hear the messages.
It all comes back to mindfulness, to being here now, in the present moment. Yoga and meditation can help you to develop your awareness of the present moment. And to just be here.
MINDFULNESS BOOK LIST
Some excellent books to help you to begin to develop your own awareness, discover the beauty and bounty of being here, right here, right now.
How to Practice: Th Way to a Meaningful Life - H.H. the Dalai Lama
Mindfulness in Plain English - Bhante Gunaranatana
The Miracle of Mindfulness - Thich Nhat Hanh
Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness - Sharon Salzberg
The Power of Now - Eckhardt Tolle
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