by Michael Lewin
Busyness often preoccupies me as I undertake little tasks on my ‘Must Do Today’ list. This is something I’m regularly involved in with some degree of recognizable anxiety. There is no other word for it. And somehow if I fail to tick the items ‘Complete’ a strange feeling of disappointment, even failure surfaces in my mind. The need to be preoccupied with ‘busyness’, however small and insignificant, seems to be a powerful force in my life. Why am I like this? How could I have allowed all this busy activity to shape my life? What worth does all this activity really contain? And why do I attach so much importance and significance to it?
Pascal, the French philosopher wrote about diversion ( divertissement ) in his work: Pensees (Thoughts ) saying: “ Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest.” Then he asserts that we seek out and find a diversion, often in busyness, to prevent us from asking deeper questions about meaning and significance in our lives. Another important aspect of this diversion is its influence on our minds and bodies. It can create levels of discomfort and unease where we are unable to enjoy the full fruits of rest, peace and inner calm. I understand this, for in quiet moments of less busyness, when I’m at ease with myself, not anxious to engage with anything in particular, just resting and relaxing around the notion of just ‘being’ a profound contentment settles in and everything seems to magically ‘fit’. There is an air of calm around me and this seems to provides seedbed conditions (of which I’m certain you have experienced ) that allows some form of insight to surface. But unfortunately this week, yet again, I had momentarily forgotten all this and embroiled myself in busyness yet again. After a few days of exhausting work I decided to lay on the sofa quietly playing some smoothing classical music to aid my relaxation. Fairly soon I felt the experience of occupying another space – a place of calm and serenity. Suddenly, and without any provocation a thought surfaced in my mind to knock me sideways. It was a challenging ‘message’ that told me that the universe wasn’t set up to keep me solely occupied with busy activity! I laughed at this suggestion and promised myself then and there that I would spend the rest of the day attending to the needs of my body not my overactive mind.
Too often our little distractions can take us to the wrong places where we will find no real, lasting satisfaction. In time they can build up to eventually block any realization of a different, better more leisurely pace to life. Being fully present in the body, calm and relaxed, cultivating a peaceful, discerning consciousness – one that can reflect upon and evaluate our lives in meaningful ways – is a priority, one that I must constantly remind myself to follow!