A few years ago I woke up to my habit of being in a perpetual rush. I was biking up Madison from my home in the valley to teach my 10am class up on Capitol Hill. It was 9:45am, so I was already late. At about 26th Avenue I became aware of the physical sensations moving through me as I pedaled my legs furiously and my electric bike assist kicked in at full speed––I was flying. That day, instead of feeling bad for being late, again, I tuned in to the feelings. This was stress, yes, but it was also a high. It was a rush. My lateness was giving me I flood of sensation that I was quite familiar with, comfortable with, and maybe even dependent on. When I showed up to teach (I wound up arriving right at 10am) I threw on my best chill yoga teacher vibe, and by the end of class I’d caught up to it.
But this new awareness got me thinking. Maybe my relationship to time was something to consider, to work on. I became curious about why I put things off til the last minute (like leaving for a class or an appointment), even if I started out with plenty of time. I tuned into how I felt when I had to hurry. And I noticed that for all the “gains” I got from packing things into my day and rushing around, the biggest loss was connection. When my wheels are turning and my Type-A personality is running the show I became more like a high-speed robot than a person. People are entities to get things from. Conversation is stilted. My husband becomes my roommate. My children are dependents I manage. I miss out on relating to people and cultivating intimacy, or even just cordiality.
At 8 Limbs we’ve been asking monthly questions this year, and July’s question is “How Do You Connect?” When I really considered this, my immediate answer was “I slow down.” When I slow down, I have time to talk with other people. When I slow down I can listen. When I slow down I can receive the real, beautiful gift of human connection, instead of continuing to chase after other less fulfilling things, like success, accolades, or money––things I was trained at a young age to seek without question, habitually, and at the cost of other people.
Last summer, when Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and countless other people of color) were killed by police, I made the connection between my rushing and my racism. Not only were these acts of brutality partially caused by our culture’s quick-moving, fear-based pace, but my own version of it was often keeping me from even saying hello to people out in the world that didn’t look like me. I consciously slowed down, said hello to the guy selling me fish at Safeway, and the parent picking up their kid at camp, and got into amazing conversations I never would have encountered had I continued to rush. And of course the loss of life due to rushing/reactivity continues, all over the U.S., and in our own city.
At the end of the day, I am still a rusher. I raced around yesterday having made too many commitments and lost my computer for an adrenalin-filled half-hour (it was plugged into my printer). I am writing this newsletter at 6:00am because my week was too full. But I have slowed down. I am taking more time to connect, and I am more in love with people.
This month, consider how YOU connect. Can you say hi to a new student in your yoga class? Can you allow a conversation to wend and wind? Can you listen deeply to an old friend?
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Founder & Studio Director