It all starts with the moment when, for a second or two, you forget about any worry, plan, or obligation inside your head. It’s the moment when all your senses are awake, simply enjoying the given present. You listen to the noises around you, feel your body anchored in the ground, and see the precious gift called life. It’s the state of being in the zone, flowing through life just like a river, where the stones are your own thoughts and beliefs. They are always there, but for life to flow naturally you just have to pass them without getting caught in their trap. Simply noticing, observing, labeling your thoughts and emotions, and then letting them go, moving naturally.
As Buddha was saying, rule your mind or it will rule you… Being anchored in the present means controlling your mind not to get distracted by unhealthy thoughts, switching the focus every time to elements that make you a human being: your breathing, surroundings, nature in all its forms, the Universe and its works.
Recently, I felt trapped in my mind’s desire to do and my heart’s desire to be. After my first year of college, I was so used to working all day long, being extra productive and in control of my time that I would not let any second waste on things that might hinder my efficiency. I was such a control freak that I would get anxious when I found myself simply resting, without a concrete plan, not knowing what’s the next step of my day, week, or month. Being in summer break, there were no more deadlines, projects, or exams to challenge me and keep me busy. Productivity is like a drug, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. But as I was saying to a friend a while ago, once you experience what is like to get out of your comfort zone, you become addicted. You want more, and more. What do you do when you want so much that your wish becomes anxiety when your body says stay and your mind says do it? It’s a dilemma that you would love to solve. Between be and do, I found myself confused. Should I listen to my body or do as my mind wants? I felt I was so tired I didn’t even have the power to choose. Maybe that was the sign that I need to rest. After a year spent in the American culture focused on ideas of grind, hustle, and work, maybe I needed to remind myself of the European values such as the Italian dolce far niente. I was feeling like I want and can do a lot, but at the same time I felt that life is made out of moments that need respiro moments between. It’s like a rebirth. We live one life, but we are born again every time we need change and power for a new start. Productivity becomes addictive, but how else to keep it than through breaks which allow us to curate our thoughts, plans, lists, and ideas?
Reflecting on this, I chose to make the most of my time without obligations, deadlines and micromanagement. After all, that’s what vacations are for. If I were constantly working and checking lists I would go crazy. I would transform into a human doing from a human being. This trap is not for me, as I would completely deny my values and aspirations, being just another victim of the system and daily routine. I decided I want to keep my enthusiasm and teen spirit alive during my stay on this Earth, reason why it’s important to take breaks. Moments when I don’t owe anything to anyone, only the simple pleasure of living to myself, with its flatness in times when I should probably listen to my body whispering that I should just stay, just be. To immerse in my warm and cosy bed, let my imagination take me in the world of a romance novel, give a smile to the stranger that walked by me, run in a country field, wander around the city observing and getting inspired from the world around, take a second to hug my parents instead of writing that “extremely important” email, or turn off my phone and sit on a bench in the park, contemplating the people passing by, as well as the nature surrounding me, making me realize that life is made of moments, not to-do lists.
So I chose to stay. I put aside all my calendars and agendas, and let my life flow naturally. The last month, with all its uncertainty and free time, was filled with spontaneous moments, adventures, escapades at the beach, laughs, sunsets as well as sunrises, dance nights, and new friendships. All because I let it happen naturally. No plans, no worries, just life doing its wonders. So, if you’re obsessed with time management as I am, I recommend you take a break, and unplug from your daily tasks. It can be for a day, a week, or even a month. The most important part is watching what a precious gift life is if you let it be.
I realized that sometimes we need to listen neither to our mind nor our body, but to our soul. What if we let our soul to just be for once in a while, to reward it with the respiro moment it needs so much? Life would be a bit more beautiful, the world would seem happier, and we would finally get to experience the art of simply being.