The Joy of missing out…
Recently I was in the slow lane, immersed in nature and gentle silence for five days – such luxury!
There is no accident in such an arrangement.
I chose to prioritise and organise so that I could step out of my habituated life, out of the hustle and bustle.
In order to say yes to being on retreat I needed to choose to say no to a myriad of other things. There were no guarantees of finding nirvana, or even a moment of peace, no matter the setting. Still I acted with intention to create an opportunity outside of my usual routine. Like everything else in life a silent retreat has it’s own inherent risks. Which others seemed to immediately understand, telling me .. ohh I couldn’t do that! as soon as I told them where I was off to.
The modern world will teach us in almost every moment of every day how to be busy and distracted. Bombarding us with consumerism, demanding our attention then distracting us with the next shiny thing, overloading us with information, showing us how we are not enough and then filling us with FOMO. Constantly activating our brains’ default mode networks.
The modern world does not ordinarily teach us awareness, inner peace, mental clarity. To balance out all the pace and noise we need to actively choose, if we want to experience something else.
To improve your capacity to pay attention, to focus, to connect with your own deep inner wisdom, to really meet another person in intimate relationship, to grow empathy and compassion, to consistently regulate your emotions and respond consciously to the world, to deliver on your intentions and values, you will need to actively cultivate and nourish yourself.
Whilst I was in silence I read Oliver Burkeman’s book Four Thousand Weeks. Burkeman has been a self described productivity geek, better known to most of us as a time management expert.
He writes of how liberating it is to realise that you will NEVER have everything under control and he concludes that missing out is guaranteed. In fact it’s the missing out, that is what makes our choices – what we actually do – more meaningful. He encourages readers to recognise life as finite and get used to ceaselessly waving goodbye to possibilities. Instead of seeking out distraction, being lost in the daily grind and busyness, be responsible – decide and give your life more meaning!
To quote my most recent teacher from the retreat, Catherine Ingram, we can choose to dignify our own life by saying yes to it. To paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, what do you need so that you can embrace your one precious life?
It’s not all in your control but it is yours for the taking when YOU decide to intentionally participate, instead of feeling done to. There really are so many opportunities for personal agency.
Can you stand still and be quiet long enough to hear your own inner voice?
To feel your own body and what it needs?
You might like to connect with them sometime too.
May you be well!
How will you choose to make a meaningful life?
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