**Note: This post contains doctrinal concepts from The Church of Jesus Christ, to which I ascribe. Take what you like, and leave the rest.
As I was thinking today about betrayal trauma, and other things that pull us away from serenity, I thought of the analogy Dieter F. Uctdorf once gave of an airplane going into turbulence.
He said that while one might think it would be a good idea to rush through and get it over with faster, usually the appropriate course of action is to slow down. He said this was true also of our lives. We tend to think when life gets busy or stressful that we should speed up and get through. To avoid damage or crashing, the wise course of action to avoid damage is to slow down, to focus on the basics, and the things that matter most. (He defined these basics as our relationships. Relationship with self, God, family, and others).
This morning, as I was doing my sun salutations during yoga, breathing, and putting on essential oils, I reflected on how connected this is to the truth found in yoga and other mindful, whole-body practices. These practices teach us to slow down. But why? Why is this an eternal principle and one found in these practices?
When we slow down we become more aware, more present. We are living in our own skin. We become grounded and centered. We wake up to our own emotions, choices and will, our capacity to love and receive love. We become able to speak our truth, to listen and follow our intuition, and are more connected to the divine. And we become aware of the blocks created within us that stop our full access to each of these things, from emotions to love, to divine connection. (This is the epitome of a relationship with self, and opens a relationship with the divine, or God). If you follow the practice of yoga, and have an understanding of chakras, this will sound very familiar to you. If you don’t, it is still obvious the great blessing each of these things are in our lives, and their importance most especially in the times of stress, busyness, or pain. Just in writing this I can feel my whole body deeply sighing in relief. This is truth. This is what I want and what I work to achieve every day.
Another great benefit of slowing down is that we learn to go through rather than run from our pain and experiences. In 12-step literature there is a story of an individual watching a herd of cows and a herd of buffalo on the plains. A bad storm rolls in. Each herd reacts differently. The cows run away from the storm, while the buffalo stand their ground and hunker down, gathering their babies by their side. It may seem like the cows had the right idea, but you can’t outrun a storm—all that happens is that you are in the storm much longer. The Buffalo put their heads and shoulders down and lean into the storm. It is over much more quickly for them. Going through stress or pain is not the “roses and butterflies life” in which we’d sometimes love to bask. It is difficult. But when we breathe through those experiences, feel them, and are present with them, we don’t get stuck forever in a storm we are trying to outrun. I’ve worked with many, many people who have run. At times in my life I have run. I didn’t know a different way, and neither did they. And we have paid a price. We have paid a price in emotional health, physical health, and/or our serenity and peace. When we run those we love also pay a price as we either abandon them to the storm as we run, or try to control them to lessen the effects of the storm on us.
As someone who has gone through hard things as a mother, and someone who wants to be fully available to nurture others, living consciously is an invaluable tool. To consciously live, to stay present, to be aware of my needs and the needs of my family members and hold space for them as the mother buffalo did is truly nurturing for both myself and others. This is my relationship to family and others. This is how I can truly be connected to them, because of and through my connectedness with self.
Finally, to tie it back into doctrine, Satan, or the adversary, doesn’t want us to be present with our lives. He doesn’t want us to consciously live. Conscious living takes effort and produces growth, authenticity, deeper relationships, and more love. All things he’d rather we do without. And with that background knowledge, it is no wonder that societal trends are moving away from those things toward more busyness and less connectedness with ourselves and others. He’s convincing us that we are cows: that running away from ourselves and real life is the answer.
I’d rather be a buffalo.