By Sabine Grunwald
Our lives are packed with activities. I talked to Susan the other day. She is an undergraduate #student at UF and her schedule is full each week with class assignments, quizzes, exams and deadlines. She is rushing to Starbucks to get a boost for the next class and no time for lunch because the assigned reading material is excruciatingly painful. “Just to survive this semester” she said. I asked her if this is what she expected from being in college. Susan looked disoriented and replied “I do not even have time to ponder this question.” Lately, she is feeling nauseated and is battling headaches she reported. “It is all too much” she replied. Then I asked her if she would consider learning some #mindfulness tools that would allow her to re-energize and destress, thereby improving her ability to focus which helps the learning process, perhaps even achieving a higher grade in the next exam. She bluntly denied “I am too busy to add another thing to my busy schedule”.
“I am too #busy to #meditate” has become a slogan in our modern fast-paced life. We literally believe that there is no minute we can spare to quiet down and benefit from mindfulness practices. The attitude is that time needs to be filled with activities because otherwise it is felt we are wasting our time. Even in our spare time we keep ourselves busy going to the gym to work out or clean the house. The underlying idea is that “just sitting and doing nothing” is being lazy, and lazy does not allow to achieve the American dream to become the best, with all the sweet material things and $ that come with it. There is a misconception that sitting in meditation or being mindful taking few breaths is somehow destructive to this dream – let it be to earn a college degree, place a high paid job or gain a comfortable social position. This habitual pattern of “doing” is often so strong that we may not even notice it in our daily lives; literally we are too busy and stressed to notice. On the other side of the street is cultivation of “just being”, experiencing this very moment fully. Sitting in #meditation freaks us out because we are not used to it. It makes us uneasy because it may be mental voodoo unstabilizing our solid sense self. It makes us different because everybody else around us is on the rush, hence slowing down would seem like going against our dream.
These are not only common believes in the student population at large universities, such as UF, but also found among many staff and faculty members. The other day I tried to schedule a project meeting time and the doodle poll suggested that literally over the next two months there is no time for our research team of four to meet because our calendars are clocked up with pre-scheduled appointments, teaching and project/proposal deadlines. We are running around like roosters and chickens heads down picking grain after grain from the ground without even looking up. We cannot spare a minute to attune. Attune to what? To our #body and mind, to the moment rushing by without being noticed. Be honest – now take few deep breaths before answering this question. I mean really, inbreath – outbreath, inbreath – outbreath, inbreath – outbreath. Do you believe you have time to be mindful? Or are you too busy to meditate, even for one minute a day.