Did you put your shoes to the left or to the right of the door?
I have the amazing good fortune of working at Wellness on Whyte. One of the perks is the sense of calm and presence when I walk through the door in the morning. I immediately begin to notice things –my senses are awake. It smells fresh and alive. It feels clear, spacious and welcoming. No matter how chaotic my morning was or how challenging to get across Whyte Ave, once I am there I feel aligned with my body and heart.
When everything is clear it is interesting the things we notice. To the amusement of those who know me well, I often notice the shoes in the front entrance. Many people place them neatly under the little bench. Some shoes are off to the side. But then, there are always a couple of shoes right in the middle of the floor with one shoe upside down and the other shoe kicked off a foot away in their hurry to get to their appointment.
If we were to ask people how they left their shoes, most would have no idea. We move through our day doing hundreds of things without thinking, often patterned by the ways we always do them. At times I stop and take a moment to arrange a couple of pairs more neatly. It helps to keep the front entrance aligned with the rest of the clinic — this small act changes my day. Is there a significance to something so small as to how we arrange our shoes? I believe there is.
I recently read an article about a course taught at Harvard that declared —“this course will change your life.” The article was called, “Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?” (1) The course on Chinese philosophy had to be moved to the largest lecture hall to accommodate all the students. Many of the students had their entire lives planned for them leading up to coming to Harvard, as well as programs of study, and even their future professions. It is referred to as their career path and is calculated to provide the optimal outcome.
There is an underlying perception that to achieve your goals you must rationally control each step of the way. But some part of them realizes that something is missing. This course introduced them to a new way of living, problem solving and making decisions. Living each moment spontaneously and open to what guides us and moves us as life unfolds. This can then inform how we approach everything from how businesses are run to how we are in our relationships.
One of the main ideas of eastern philosophy is that we are this amazing combination of body, heart and mind. These three aspects make us who we are. This is our true essence. There is a wisdom and a way of living that understands this wholeness — our body and our heart is our mind.
When we tap into this wisdom we become aware of cues and opportunities that arise as we relate and interrelate with the world and those we connect with. It allows for new possibilities that were impossible to foresee. Instead of being limited by a single approach dictated by our usual patterns, we can spontaneously adapt to situations and problems that we encounter. In essence, we become limitless. There is no end to how we can learn and grow and what we can become. I know, for myself, every life changing event happened because I spontaneously responded to something I could not have predicted. Please feel free to ask me sometime how I left an IT management position in the Northwest Territories to study Thai massage in Thailand. Or, how I ended up living in Inuvik. Or, how I ended up in India and met my partner. We truly cannot know the significance of events or actions. The smallest of these can change our lives if we are open and adaptable.
So how do we do this? It begins merely by creating space to be aware of our bodies and hearts. It brings us into the present moment. In the present moment we are able to listen with our whole essence. As we cultivate this, our listening becomes supercharged and we gain new insights. The smallest action can have significance. From here, we open ourselves to being guided by our inner wisdom and tapping into how we would like to respond. But now, we have many more response options available to us. The final part involves trusting ourselves and moving forward in our actions. Mindfulness is not the end goal here. Even a deer caught in headlights is mindful and completely in the present moment. The goal is trusting ourselves, guided and aligned with our essence and interacting with those around us. We are strong, adaptable and resilient. To achieve more with our lives, we must slow down and do less.
Taking this forward:
- Take some time every day to create space for “in the moment” time
- In that time listen with your whole essence –what intelligence opens for you from your body and your heart?
- Allow yourself to spontaneously respond to this guidance. This can be as simple as taking a walk with no fixed direction or route.
Written by Paul Cramer (RMT)