Skip the shortcuts and enjoy the journey

There’s no destination. The journey is all that there is, and it can be very, very joyful.
~Srikumar Rao

A girlfriend and I hadn’t seen each other in awhile, and she suggested we meet up at the Getty to take in a little culture and a bite to eat, teasing me that we were truly growing into little old ladies who lunch at museums :).

I arrived a little early and had a choice between taking the tram from the parking structure up the big hill to the museum or taking the walking path that ran alongside it.

It was a hot breezeless day, and part of me wanted to take the shortcut, to sit down and relax in an air-conditioned box as I was carried up the hill, saving my legs for the galleries ahead.

But the other part of me wanted to slow down…to skip the shortcut and enjoy the journey instead.

So I began trekking up the hill and to my delight I was guided through a sculpture garden and onto a beautiful tree-lined path that offered an expansive and surprisingly enjoyable view; I must admit, there’s something wonderful about being able to look over the 405 freeway and be grateful you’re on foot surrounded by happy trees instead of in the car surrounded by angry drivers.

Staying off the beaten path gave me an opportunity to meet a lovely woman who was also venturing along the sidelines; we took the time to get wrapped up in a conversation around what we love most about the city we live in and sharing about the work that lights us up (both of us helping the world in our own way – her life as a lawyer and mine as a healer and coach).

By the time I reached the top and said goodbye to my new friend to meet up with my old one, I realized that taking the “long way” gave me the unexpected gift of discovering more about myself and my connection to the people and place around me.

So often we rush through life, with a single-minded focus on our goals, forgetting that the goals are simply anchors to guide us toward our expansion, but that real life can ONLY be experienced right here, right now.

Click to tweet!Click to tweet>> Slow down and enjoy both the destination as well as the journey along the way. <<Click to tweet

One way to intentionally slow down is through cultivating a practice of walking meditation, and I invite you to try it out through the 10 simple steps below:

  1. Find a private area where you can walk about 10 steps in one direction, indoors or outside (I always recommend getting out in nature if you can!).
  2. Begin standing in mountain pose, feet body-width apart and knees slightly bent and relaxed. Keep your eyes open, but soft, gazing easily in front of you (no need to watch your feet; trust that feeling them is enough).
  3. Focus awareness on the soles of your feet, feeling the weight of your body moving downward toward your feet and the physical connection with the ground beneath them.
  4. Allow the left heel to rise slowly and pay attention to all of the sensations moving up from the heel to ankle to calf. Notice the gentle shifting of the weight to the right foot. Notice if there is any wobbling as your left foot slowly moves toward the ground, bringing the attention first to the heel, then mid foot, then ball.
  5. Now bring the awareness to your right foot as you begin to slowly lift it off the ground, paying attention to those sensations you feel in the calf, ankle, and foot as you intentionally step forward.
  6. Repeat this process using the physical sensation of walking as your anchor, bringing your awareness back any time the mind wanders.
  7. When you reach the end, take a moment to simply stand and bring awareness back to the physical sensation of standing for a breath or two.
  8. Then repeat the process walking back the other direction, slowly, mindfully, and intentionally, taking small steps as you go.
  9. Continue walking for 10-15 minutes, varying the speed to slow down and speed up once you feel comfortable in your normal pace.
  10. Once the timer has gone off, stand once more in mountain pose, bringing awareness for a breath or two to the sensation of feeling present and grounded, enjoying what THIS moment has to offer.

I’d love to hear from you; what was your last experience of consciously slowing down to enjoy the journey in your life?