Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simple Suggestion #75... Listen to your heartbeat

In our noisy, busy world, this suggestion is a bit tricky. First, you need a quiet place. If you can't find one of those, you can always plug your ears and listen for the whoosh of blood flowing around your body, proving that you have a heart that's working. Putting your ears underwater in the bathtub usually works, too, but if you're reading this, the likelihood of you being in the bath is pretty much nil. Failing all of those ideas, if you can't hear your own heartbeat, slow down enough to pay attention to your breathing. Breathe deeply!

Life is a miracle, and unfortunately, we rarely stop long enough to appreciate our own. Hearing my own heart beating or being aware of my own breathing gives me a wee pause to think about the time when those things won't be happening any more, and an awareness of the inevitability of my death of helps me to keep life in perspective. I suspect that if human beings were more aware of how temporary we really are, we would do things quite differently. Rather than spending our time working to pay for stuff we don't actually need, we might do the things we really love, or be with the people who matter most to us. Rather than hoarding, we might share a little more. Rather than holding back our feelings, we might remember to say, "I love you," or "I forgive you," or "please forgive me." Rather than running around like chickens without heads, we might find a little more balance. When we start to think this way, each day is a gift to cherish and use to the fullest for good things.

So, being aware of our mortality isn't a bad thing at all. And listening to our heart beat, to our breathing, gives our body a little break, a moment to de-stress. As we listen, we might stretch a little, roll our heads around a bit, straighten our spines and lift our arms ceilingward as we take another deep breath to release body tension. Doing all these things, we can find our balance, appreciate the life in our limbs -- and remember the blessings in the life we are living.

In one of those lovely God-incidences that happens now and then, I just checked my email and found these words from Jean Vanier. I'll leave them with you:
In order to grow towards a deeper sense of identity and to open ourselves to others, we need times of quiet and reflection, times of inner peace and relaxation. If we are preoccupied with plans and a compulsive need to succeed and be appreciated, or if we are tired, tense and stressed, it is difficult to slow down and welcome and listen to reality and to others. Our internal motor runs too fast. It is impossible to be silent and stand back from what is happening in order to consider our motives and fears. The heart's silence is blotted out by the noise of the motor. Growth demands that we are fit, well rested, and relaxed both in body and spirit. So it is important to find a healthy rhythm of life, and to know how much rest we need and the types of relaxation that give life.

- Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, pp 153-154

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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