Have you ever caught yourself in a routine that is not healthy either physically, emotionally or mentally and asked yourself “WHY, AM I DOING THIS?”? I was away last weekend in NYC and it is funny how some of the habits come back the instant I am there. Luckily this past weekend I DID catch myself and spent my time more wisely than I have done in the past. By becoming conscious there are more and more moments where YOU get to choose ultimately HOW you want to act instead of being on automatic pilot and wow is it ALWAYS SO WORTH IT!
I was born in Brooklyn and at age 6 moved to Manhattan where I lived (except for college) until I was 28 years old. I am in upstate, NY now and have slowed my pace down considerably although some friends might disagree, saying that I still walk fast like a New Yorker. 😉 This past weekend, I was in the city for the International Women’s Writing Guild Conference. On Friday night I was headed across town from the Upper East Side (where I was raised) to the Upper West Side to meet up with a friend. As I walked to the bus stop I was my usual fast-walking self… just taking in the city smells and sites… I love that you see so many different nationalities of people and food and my head is always moving and smiling when we visit.
I arrived at the bus stop and saw many people doing “the bus stop dance” that I often have participated in. Step one – lean out on the curb to see if the bus is coming… (you must know the second it is – why? I don’t know really – it just makes people feel better knowing when to line up and get ready to board). 😉 Step two – look down at the pavement as you find your spot near the curb (Eye contact is PROHIBITED in NYC). Step Three – check your cell phone and email. Step Four – look around but do NOT make eye contact. REPEAT ALL beginning with checking for the bus again. I’ve done this dance many times saying in my head “hey, where’s the bus?”, checking my email and seeing the latest of what’s going on via Facebook on my IPhone. NOT THIS TIME. This time when I saw people doing the bus stop dance it suddenly looked very silly to me. WHY would I do that? Is the bus going to come faster if I look for it every minute? Nope, it will in fact seem like it is taking even LONGER and get me stressed out in the process! I had finalized plans for the night via my phone and didn’t have any emails that could not wait – so now I was faced with, “Hmmm what CAN I do to make use of this time?”
I decided to have some fun and enjoy the different people and sensations in the city. I looked, really looked at the people passing by. (Yep – I’m a wild child avoiding the NO EYE CONTACT RULE). 😉 I tuned into people and used my intuition to feel what they were feeling and wow was that fun. We can be so in tune with each other and yet we constantly strive to shut each other out by headphones, phones and other noise. I watched the mom with the laughing baby in the stroller and felt the love between them. I observed a couple beginning a disagreement as the tones got louder and the woman took his hand to calm him and saw him relax as she did. I watched the teenager texting with one hand, headphones on, anxiously awaiting the light to turn FEELING that she was late. I watched the older couple slowly walking, deciding to wait for the light holding hands instead of trying to run across it and felt their comfort with each other and in that moment. I watched, I felt and I smiled. I took an inventory of my own body. I felt relaxed in this city of sensory overload, I felt happy, I felt centered. The bus came too quickly if you ask me and I continued my little experiment on the bus. I stayed conscious as to what was going on around me and the emotions and people involved. I also stayed tuned in to how I was feeling and the present moment. I smiled at the people brave enough to make eye contact with me and I even got some smiles back. I enjoyed every second of that trip across town and arrived with a huge smile as I continued my journey to meet up with my friend.
How many moments have you experienced a choice in what you will do RIGHT NOW? If the grocery line is held up are you impatient or enjoying the time to reflect? If there is traffic – do you grumble and get aggressive thinking of what that extra 10 minutes will mean or do you enjoy THIS ten minutes that you have to yourself? We all have choices of how we will use our time and where our mind will be but we don’t often recognize those choices. I am getting better and was very pleased I actually recognized this bus stop dance and put a stop to it. We always have the present moment to be in and there is always good awaiting us there IF we choose to connect to our soul instead of reverting to automatic pilot and missing the experience of NOW. I would love to hear how you have experienced moments of habits and decided to do something else. What do you do when you find yourself stressed out and recognize it? It is healing to become aware of these moments and change your reactions to them.