Often in India while traveling these last weeks, I heard our group asking some version of the question, "I wonder what all these people are doing?". As we drove through villages and towns, there was a sense of trying to relate to these people. Trying to put yourself into their lives for a moment to make that connection. How do you live? What do you eat? What is your livelihood? are all questions we ask in trying to sort out our relationship to new people in a new place.
What finally dawned on me is that the specific question "What are all these people doing?" was coming up again and again, because they were doing something we couldn't relate to, and didn't understand.
They were being still.
Don't misunderstand me, India can be a bustling, busy, chaotic place to be sure. But in huge, metropolitan areas as well as small, rural villages we were witnessing something very foreign...stillness. Now, as someone whose most challenging yoga pose is couch-asana, this struck me. This wasn't sitting down to have a meal, which many of us in the US can barely manage, or sitting down at a computer or TV. This was public sitting, or in many cases even reclining; sitting in front of one's house, sitting in front of one's business, sitting down in city centers and connecting with others. It was one of those travel experiences that provides the perfect juxtaposition of how I experience my own life and culture.
So as I settle back into home, coming off three weeks of practicing slowing down, I'm conscious of my pace. I'm conscious of all the ways I spin my wheels wanting to feel busy. I'm conscious of the deliciousness of sitting down and being still...as long as I'll allow.