“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down” – Lily Tomlin
A couple of months ago I was running late to work.
And we all know what happens when we are running late, right? If you are
overly anxious about being late, the “law of attraction” (for those who believe
in that), gets set into motion as evidenced by the following possible scenario.
You get stuck behind EVERY red light. Then, you might have the honor of driving behind a tractor that can accelerate to a maximum of 10 miles per hour. To make matters worse you will most likely need to stop for at least one funeral procession and once you make it past that obstacle, you need to be prepared for the appearance of several ambulances and police cars on the hot pursuit of an emergency- which force you to pull over and stop yet again. What started out as you being 5 – 10 minutes late escalates into a half hour. Naturally, your
cortisol levels rise and you start cursing everyone and everything for something
you probably could have avoided if you just left when you had planned to.
Well, I was having one of those mornings while driving to work, and found myself feeling like a victim - when of course I wasn’t…just a little unlucky or so I thought.
I was about to break free from it all, and cruise the final stretch on the back roads
before I could “fly” down the highway, when I was forced yet again to stop because a car was parked smack dab in the middle of the road. The driver did not have her hazard lights on and everything seemed fine – except that she was
stopped. She than began directing traffic and waving cars around her. Holding back my stress, and trying to just breathe, I managed to contain myself as I finally drove past her. It was then I realized what she was doing.
There was a turtle crossing the road –and she was protecting it. Suddenly, my inflated sense of self- importance seemed so so small, as I became overwhelmed with tears of gratitude for this person, who also may very well have been on her way to work. Yet she took the time to stop. She took the time to acknowledge that this turtle’s life matters and that it was just as important as anything else she may have had to do. In yoga, we call this ahimsa, which means non-
violence. This got me to wonder a little about turtles.
Turtles are prehistoric creatures which date back to the Triassic period some 220 million years ago. They have been the subject of much myth and folklore. They are one of the oldest symbols for “mother earth” and remind us to slow down (pretty hard to do sometimes), and move at our own pace. In China and Japan, the turtle is a symbol of longevity, and in other Asian myths they represent cosmic order (see www.linsdomain.com or www.whats-your-sign.com.) According to the Linsdomain website, when a turtle shows up on your path, it’s a sign to “trust the earth’s limitless energies rather than your own to accomplish your will”.
Even though I didn’t know this about turtles as I drove by, I was able to slow down for the rest of my commute, and day for that matter. My first client then cancelled. So all the heightened stress I was feeling while I was rushing to work was futile. Everything ended up being “just fine” as it usually is, and I had a fun and productive day. I meant to write about it when it happened, but got busy and let it slide…until…it happened again. Two weeks ago, I was again running late, and had to stop because someone else parked their car to let a turtle cross the road…which totally blew me away. This time I actually wondered if that was why they stopped and as it turned out, it was! I took the lesson in, slowed down and had another great day at work.
Just last week, I was driving to work…this time on schedule and something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Sadly, there was a dead turtle on the side of the road, and it looked like it was run over. Who knows what the
circumstances were that lead to the turtle’s death…perhaps it was dark and the
driver didn’t see it. Nevertheless, I saw this is yet another sign from the universe to write about the importance of slowing down. So if you are reading this, here’s your assignment for the week: identify and practice one way in which you can slow down. If you have difficulty executing it, no worries: it’s all a process of awareness. Please feel free to write back and tell me how “slowing down” was for you. I’d love to hear about it!