Achieving a state of time spaciousness
Following my own advice to be kind to myself, I booked a short break last week for Richard and I to Rome and Naples. We explored Rome in my favourite way – we wandered around wherever our feet took us, drifting in and out of shops and up and down avenues which may or may not bring us to the tourist attractions. We have experienced our favourite, unexpected moments while travelling like this. This time there was only one place on our list for Rome, the Colosseum, and that we also did in an organic way, with the feeling that we had all the time in the world and there was no rush.
I experienced this state of time spaciousness for the first time in 2006, three months after my near-death experience after surgery. Although I had a wonderful experience while I was ‘dead’ on the other side, when I came back I was very sharply brought down to earth. I had a lot of post-surgery pain and my body was slow to recover. After some months I realised I needed to escape the sick room at home, get out and experience something completely different. I chose London to escape to, and with the protests of my family still ringing in my ears I made the long journey from Johannesburg to my favourite city. I was weak and couldn’t walk very far before needing to sit down, and the concern was that I would tire myself out and not have the help I needed.
But I was determined to ‘do’ London on my terms, and not in any way prescribed by convention. I had no lists of places to tick off, no need to get to any particular sights, and no one to be accountable to. I spent hours at the galleries just staring at one painting before shuffling along to the next bench and the next artwork. The Tate Modern became my recovery retreat, and the benches along the Thames my haven of peace as the bustle of the city flowed around me. I had never felt more peaceful, more alive and more present.
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
~ Jim Elliot
This was a game changer for me. Even now, when I have a lot of experience describing being present and mindful, I cannot fully articulate the enormous sense of freedom I experienced that late summer in London. I was not there for very long – only a week – but I was so fully in tune with myself, my body and the world, that time expanded and I returned home almost fully recovered. It was as if I had been gone for months, not days, in that state of acceptance and simply allowing whatever came up, to be what it was.
Although I sought this state of blissful being on each holiday after that, it was only when I started meditating seven years later that I worked out that the meditative state I had accidentally achieved could be purposely sought no matter the location. It is harder when we have the distractions of everyday life, but it is possible to deal with the challenges and still keep your feeling of internal expansion.
“But I would hate that” said Fred.
As is the way with us humans, because I love this free way of exploring cities I want everyone else to experience it too. But Fred in our office was not impressed. ‘I tried that once,’ he said, ‘And I hated it! I need a list and a plan.’
The river analogy is useful here as a how-to for staying present but still having a life plan (or a travel plan): it flows forward, without looking back (the past) nor trying to arrive prematurely at the end (the future), but still has the structure of the riverbanks (your plan) to guide the flow. Changing course as needed is a natural progression, as is flowing around obstacles and obstructions.
“What’s comin’ will come, and we will meet it when it does.”
Learning how to meditate anywhere, any time, may seem impossible, or daunting, or ridiculous – but why not be ridiculous at every opportunity? Because as I discovered on that impactful trip, it is possible to cross a heaving Piccadilly Circus while feeling the peace of the universe flow around and through you.
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|This week on the Recipe Club
| Welcome to our garden’s finest,
the vibrant and earthy beetroot!
Join us in our farm-to-table experience as we transform these beautiful beets into mouthwatering, garden-inspired burgers.