Big Sur is where I spent the majority of my time on my trip and for anyone who doesn’t know the Big Sur, it hosts one of the most magical blends of mountains, fog and forest in the world. It has also attracted famous artists, mystics, naturalists and intellectuals who without ego blend into the landscape without altering it or destroying it. While there, it’s impossible to not exist in a Zen like state completely surrendered to natural rhythms, the splendor of nature and the glory of God. I call this the “Big Sur State of Mind.”
As I return to my life at home, I have set an intention to be more in touch with this state. However, it’s harder to maintain when not in a beauty saturated environment and when hit by the demands of an increasingly fast paced modern life. My old antidote to the latter used to be to simplify, say no and to disconnect some from life but now that doesn’t work so well. I currently have a life style where try as I might, I can’t simplify without stripping myself of critical activities contributing to my personal and professional evolution as well as rich relationships that form the center of my being and values. Without realizing it, I have stepped up my game and there is no turning back.
So the only thing I can do is slow down my internal speed even if the structure of my life continues to clip along at a rapid trot. The image that keeps coming to my mind is that of an airplane in which you can feel like you aren’t traveling at intense speeds while inside, yet if observed from the outside, the plane really is moving at an intense rate. I’d like to have this feeling – to set this intention – to live from this place.
On the other hand, I realize there are some things I can slow down in my day-to-day life to keep myself from spinning too much off center. Often, I operate from my stubborn sense of will vs. intention, pushing myself to “do” instead of to simply move from task to task fully present and with a sense of joy. This was initially not hard to accomplish provided I had enough spaciousness in my schedule to breathe but as the demands of my life have increased, I have taken to multi-tasking to the nth degree leaving me robotic at times. Breathing gets lost in the equation. For instance, I used to cook my food with loving care but now I stand in the kitchen shoveling it in (or finding eating a chore I have to accomplish which should NEVER be the case). Even the things meant to slow me down, I sometimes charge after like a bull in a china shop. I push to get to yoga at 7:30 am (although that is better than not going) and I sometimes cram in the things I love like surfing and writing to the point where I’m frenzied from trying to do too much in one day. It’s like I’ve become a greedy kid in a candy shop who wants to have all the candy in one day instead of pacing oneself.
It’s not that cramming and pushing aren’t going to creep in but when I find myself losing pleasure in things – I start to ask myself – what is the point? I also know there is a problem when I find myself impatient with animals, children and family members. That is a huge red flag for they suffer terribly when we don’t act from a spacious, grounded place.
Basically, I need to get clear on what choices best suit my energy levels, personal needs and desires in any given moment. That is the key. That is the Big Sur State of mind. And I can only do that when I at least slow down enough to tap into myself and to God.