by Suzanne Anderssen, Brisbane, Australia
I have spent most of my life rushing. In primary school I would fit swimming, netball, guitar lessons, homework, TV, playing with friends, etc. around school time. I observed how my mother never stopped for 5 minutes, busy with work, kids, housekeeping. When in high school, I actually got a speeding fine and subsequently lost my licence for seeing how fast I could get to the shops to buy a cake mix (!). On school days I would wake up exactly 15 minutes before the bus was scheduled, fitting in a shower, breakfast, dressing and packing my school bag before running out the door to make the bus (my hair was always left wet). This ‘routine’ set me up for adult life: for years I set my alarm to wake up with the bare minimum of time needed to make it to work. I would drive the most direct route, without traffic lights, eat breakfast and do my hair in the car, put on lipstick in the rear vision mirror, and swan into work with seconds to spare (if even that). I felt my stomach tense up as I sped through life.
When I was in one of my early jobs as a waitress, we used to be told, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean”! Another phrase that has been used my whole life was “No rest for the weary”. You just toughen up and do what you have to do to get everything done.
I started to really notice the rushing when I had my daughter. When I was pregnant, I noticed for the first time how I wanted to move more slowly and gently. I wanted to take more time doing everything such as grocery shopping, walking, and eating. When I was in labour, she took her time being born; spending 3 hours navigating the birth canal – no-one was going to rush her out!
Life with an infant was so different, it became an extension of the pregnancy, everything had to slow down. I had to pack nappy bags with care and mindfulness or else I’d forget extra clothes or wipes; breastfeeding couldn’t be rushed, ever.
As my baby grew into a toddler, she showed me how unimportant time was. I had spent a lifetime watching the clock, and what I did depended on what time it was. Except parenting! Life became more about periods of time, rather than the actual time (but it took years to figure that out). I still left it too late to make appointments on time and had to rush to get there, but the good thing was that I felt how yucky that was.
When making school lunches, I noticed when I looked at the clock and saw I was running short of time, my body immediately reacted and sped up. The blueberries started dropping onto the ground, the Cruskit broke from pressing too hard with my knife, I felt butterflies in my tummy, my chest felt constricted, my voice became louder, my brain started listing all the things I need to do, now. Talk about ‘feeling it in your body’! I noticed I became irritated, busier, flustered and stressed when I rushed. I dropped things, cut myself, bumped into things; my shins always had a bruise on them somewhere. When I rushed my toddler, she fell over – every time. Then there were the tears, grazes, blood, Bandaids, more lateness and even more rushing. My then 4 year-old daughter even said, “Mummy, when you rush me, you take me out of love.” I knew it didn’t work, but the rushing was so ingrained, I didn’t know how to change it.
A couple of years ago, I started listening to Serge Benhayon’s gentle breath meditation. The first time I heard it, I knew this was it. I have listened to many guided meditations over the last 2 decades, and they did help, but only for the duration of the tape, and maybe a few hours after it. There never was any lasting change. But with the gentle breath meditation, I felt gentleness and calm sweep through my body. My heart felt slower, it felt like my blood was reaching the far corners of my body finally, and not just straight up and down the middle.
I finally started to set my alarm early, giving myself over an hour to get ready, actually looking into a mirror, actually doing my hair, sitting down (not in a car seat) to eat breakfast. And it feels great! I have noticed that once I start not rushing, I am so much more gentle and present with myself, and everyone around me. At first I wondered if I was now being inefficient by not multi-tasking, but I have come to realise that I don’t need to make breakfasts and lunches at the same time – I can do them one at a time and it takes just the same length of time, and I come out feeling the same calm, smooth, still person I was as I went into making them. I now choose to drive the simplest route to work (not the shortest), with the traffic lights and hope I get stopped so I can just be for a few seconds!