Managing is not living: “time is money” is nonsense. We have to be aware of each moment and know how to take advantage of each single moment in what we are doing (with love) or in just contemplating life. A day has 24 hours and an infinity of moments. If we slow down, everything will last much longer. Of course, washing the dishes can take longer too, but why not use that time to think about pleasant things, singing, relaxing, being happy at just being alive?
In tune with life: Arthur Rubinstein (one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century) was once approached by an ardent admirer, who asked him: “How can you use the notes with such mastery?” The pianist answered: “I use the notes the same way that others do, but the pauses … ah! That’s where the art lies.” My divorce process was extremely painful and I thought that by keeping busy I would manage to get over the difficult moments, but it did not work out as foreseen because I could not see the pain in my soul. As of a certain moment I began to “use the pauses”– sit down, let the pain come and reach me and then pass. Little by little I re-structured my life and understood better the reasons for the separation. Today my ex-wife works with me in the Omega Institute– because I was able to face pain, not just hide it behind my work.
Deal with experiences in more depth: a study on the visitors to the National Zoo in Washington showed that the average time that people spend looking at an animal show is less than ten seconds. So why go to the zoo? Better just to leaf through a book with photographs, right? A guide explained to me that people complain that the hippopotamuses are always under the water, but as a matter of fact the average length of submersion is between 90 seconds and a maximum of five minutes– so, the urge to rush ahead is what makes the visitors miss all the enjoyment.
Knowing when to reflect or act: a patient of mine with an obesity problem said she was prepared to do anything to get better. I asked her, whenever she felt the urge to eat, to observe the feeling and not act. “But I feel hungry!” she answered. “Exactly,” was my comment. “If you can manage to live with that feeling, observe the hunger, let it come in all its intensity, suffer occasionally– but without acting– soon you will manage to attenuate the anxiety and you will be the master of your will rather than the slave of your impulses.”
Acting in the face of negative emotions: when we sit down on the sofa, we turn on the television (which is actually a way to “turn off” from the world). Or else we grow very anxious, feel we are wasting time, that we need to call someone, do gymnastics, tidy up the house. Why? Because if we stay quiet, all the wave of repressed emotions will assail us, depress us, leave us feeling sad or guilty. But the more we “keep busy” the more these emotions pile up, until one day we run the risk of seeing them explode out of control.
Yes, we all have our problems, which have to be faced– why not do this today? Stop. Think. Maybe suffer a little. But in the end, understand who we are, what we feel, what we are doing here at this very moment– instead of wanting to determine the Agenda of Life."