Five weeks ago today, I returned from Costa Rica. This amazing business trip was an experience which needed to be digested and the learning and wisdom needed to be integrated into my life in many different ways.
Coming back to the cold climate and a much more hectic lifestyle was one adjustment. Over the last five weeks, I often thought of the sloth which we met along the side of the road and who took a long long loooong time to make its way down to the ground from the top of a tree.
The encounter with this charming mammal made me want to hold my breath in awe. It truly felt like two different worlds colliding. This mesmerizing animal seemed to move in slow motion. We as humans, on the other hand, rush around so much that we often forget how to take it slow.
I have been contemplating what advice a sloth would give us—if it ever cared enough to impart its wisdom.
1.You’ll get there when you get there
December is the time of the year when we seem to review the old year and assess our satisfaction level with how far we have come. It can be useful to focus on our “wins” and accomplishments. It motivates us to strive for the next goal. At the same time, we often forget how arbitrary certain goals or time limits that we have imposed on ourselves are. If looking back and evaluating your successes is making you feel that you have missed a mark or that you are not where you wanted to be “at this age” or at this point in your life, remember that you’ll get there when you get there. Life is not a race after all, even though it might appear that way at times.
2. Relax and Enjoy the View
We are often in such a rush to get somewhere, to grow up, to finish school, to get the dream job or to build a business, to get through traffic to work every day, to fall in love, to get married, to buy a house, to have children, to get the children through different hurdles like school or university, to get them settled and so on.
One day, we might realize that we have focused way too much on completing each goal instead of on enjoying the journey itself. What if we adopted more of the “Relax and Enjoy the View” philosophy? What if we developed a sloth’s eye perspective from high above in the crown of a tree and remembered that there are different vantage points, and that life is about finding joy in each moment?
3. Get a good grip and hang on tight
When the tropical rainstorms of life come down, the sloth would probably tell us to just hang on and wait for the sun to come out again. There is great value in strength, trust and resilience.
Life changes inevitably happen. Someone we love dies, we lose a job, we can’t have children when we try, we move one too many times, we finally have children, our spouse breaks our trust, we get a divorce, our teenager gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, our elderly parents need us, someone else dies… Any of this or more might happen. All we can do as life throws us a curve ball is to trust that we have the strength to hang on, and when the storm is over, we will utilize all possible resources to pick up the pieces. Some branches will have broken off in the storm and we need to find new ways of getting from one tree to the next.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is highly underrated in our culture. If we don’t get a reasonable number of hours of deep and restful sleep, usually 7-8, depending on the individual, we are affected in several ways. We might put on extra weight, tend to feel more depressed and have an increased risk for inflammation in our body, diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. We need adequate sleep for a balanced hormone level, for maximum brain function, to problem solve and to have positive social and emotional interactions with others. Sleep helps to heal inflammation, balances our hormones and metabolism and lifts our mood.
5. Remember to Hang Out with Your Kind
Considering how precious time is and how fast it passes, can we make time to just hang out with our friends and family, especially our children or grandchildren, and be truly present with them? The past is over and the future hasn’t been written yet. What would it be like if we brought the energy back in that is flowing into ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, and just allowed ourselves to be here right now, in this moment in time?
Does that sound tempting? If you are in need of a bit of a sloth experience, here is a short meditation to help you to pause, to slow down and to just be present.
If you enjoyed this meditation you might want to check out other short meditations here.
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