Letting Go of Hurrying (10/19/2021)

This reflection appeared in the newsletter from October 19th, 2021.


Today, I’ll share one of my favorite meditation practices that happens across the day. It literally takes no time and is surprisingly powerful.

Basically, you notice whenever you are hurrying (and then shift to a moderate pace).

If you’re anything like most contemporary humans, you’re probably hurrying a lot. When cooking a meal, eating, driving, preparing to leave, going from your work station to the bathroom, getting through your emails, or when talking with retail workers, among a million other examples.

Hurrying could be really overt, like moving at a fast pace in the kitchen. However, at other times, like when driving, it’s a bit subtler and is more about your mindset.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that even a little bit of hurrying carries with it stress, tension, and poor focus. In contrast, letting go of hurrying allows for calm, centeredness and presence.

You’ll also probably notice that hurrying doesn’t even help. Sure, maybe you’ll finish 12 seconds faster, but you’ll sacrifice a fair amount of mental equipoise, scatter your energy, and not be as effective with your efforts.

It’s sort of like trying to read some small writing on a wall 20 feet away. While you might be tempted to scrunch your forehead and furl your brows to try to read it, you’ll notice this doesn’t actually help at all. It just makes you tense. Hurrying is kind of like this.

Importantly, letting go of hurrying doesn’t mean you move in slow motion, show up late to everything, and stop caring about efficiency. It just means you’re not hurrying. You move at a normal pace. You are present with a situation, can deeply be with what it is, and act with the wisdom born of a clear mind.

As an aside, it’s entirely possible to move quickly without hurrying, and I often ask students, “in your own experience, can you tell the difference between the two?”  However, even if you can tell the difference, moving quickly without hurrying can be pretty hard to do for people who are already inclined to hurry.  In turn, I usually suggest re-training yourself in a way that’s a little more reliable to work, as stated below.

So how to put it into practice?

Firstly, keep this reflection in mind and then simply monitor yourself across the day. Whenever you notice you are hurrying, acknowledge it, and shift to moving at a normal pause. It’s that simple.

However, if you wanted to really go for it, whenever you notice you are hurrying:

  1. Whisper to yourself, “hurrying”
  2. Physically pause for a few seconds & take a deep breath so as to reset yourself
  3. Proceed at a moderate pace

Try this out for a week. Maybe even just picking one situation to especially monitor, like in the kitchen or when walking at your workplace. You might be surprised how much it can shift your experience.