The Speed of the Soul
There is an inherent speed to things. We see it when we observe the rhythms of the natural world. When we step into a meadow and see the breeze moving through the trees, stirring the grass, we get a glimpse of it. When we have the privilege of standing on a precipice, like the Grand Canyon, and look down into the immensity of what the Earth has created, a deep silence stirs within. How long did it take for these natural masterpieces to form?
Angeles Arrien says that the rhythm of nature is medium to slow. With her wit, wry smile and twinkling eyes she would repeat this phrase over and over again. Nature moves medium to slow.
It’s quite a concept when considered from the position of our current, discordant living. We have become accustomed to incredibly fast, everything. Living in this technological age is a challenge because of the incessant onslaught of information that is constantly flung our way. The unending barrage of tweets, snapchats, notifications, pokes, texts, PMs, and emails has us moving at a speed that convinces us the life is unfolding at a deceptively fast rate. We are pushed, pulled and cajoled by the undercurrents of popular psychology to get from here to there, to make haste with making change because life is going to pass us by. And the whole time, life is passing by. It’s in the small moments: in the subtleties that we get a glimpse of this ephemeral thing we call life.
Moving at the speed of our time is a meat grinder for the soul.
The ever-increasing pace of production, consumption, and the hunger it brings is not sustainable. In a time when sustainability is all the rage, we have rarely if ever stepped back to look at the sustainability of our inner world. This is because, in a very real sense, the external world we live in and our inner world are at odds.
When we glimpse moments of being fully present, fully aware, fully alive we have the sense of time slowing down. We hear each second click away on the clock, we become enraptured in what we are experiencing in the moment. And yet, the speed modern living demands of us makes it so that those fleeting moments have to be nearly catastrophic to get our attention. And perhaps life abides. Regardless, with so much focus spent on getting somewhere (anywhere but where we are) we live life like a hobo clinging by a finger to a speeding railway car, afraid that at any moment he will slip away and be chewed up on the tracks.
Here is the thing: where you are going is no better than where you are now. Actually, where you are going is an illusion. To live your life constantly chasing the next thing is an extreme act of violence to the soul. It is a fragmenting of the soul that leaves us diminished, frustrated, and more than hungry, starving. What we are starving for is a life that is so saturated with soulfulness that no material thing could deter us from praising being alive. And this is not to say that when we reach this place all things will be pleasant. Not at all. There is much work to do. But when we learn to live from this soulful place we can start doing the work: in whatever way it may emerge for you.
We are tasked with putting back together the sacred. Amassing fortunes, increasing bank accounts, and lavishing in luxury have led us to a world in tatters. As we see the rapid decline of ecosystems, unheard of rates of extinction, and the ravages of wars brought on by neoliberal capitalist greed, we are called to make extreme changes in our ways of being. This is possible when we start slowing down. In our breakneck rush towards a future that has been pandered to us by a broken system we have forgotten how to listen. We have forgotten how to be connected: to each other, to the Earth, to our ancestors, to Spirit.
It is in times of stillness that we are guided by something much deeper, older, wiser than our racing minds could ever be. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Actually, the act of labeling in itself shuts down the path of communication. If you don’t believe me, the next time you’re having a conversation with a friend just tell them “You’re a (fill the blank in with appropriate label)!” Just see where the conversation goes. You don’t have to call IT anything: Cosmic Consciousness, Higher Self, God, Yahweh, Bog…whatever. Call it the Hamburglar if you want. But listen. Find a space where you can be stripped of your technological baubles, sit for a while, and just listen.
When you return to the frenetic world I promise it will be just the same as you left it. You may not be. That’s the point. Return to what is needed. Plant your feet firmly in the Earth. Listen. And breathe new life into a rapidly dying world. This is soul work.
*Originally published as Inlak'ech Transpersonal Coaching