• Call: (65) 6287 6268

Slow Down Your Steps

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

“Stop and smell the rose.” This is a Western saying, reminding us to slow down and really enjoy life. At this moment in time, this is the most earnest advice that can be given to a modern man. The industrial revolution has resulted in the invention of countless labor-saving machinery: washing machine, refrigerators, cars, tractors, electric stove and factory machinery. They are supposed to allow man more free time to enjoy life. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true. People in the industrial society are in fact the busiest. They are busy maintaining the machinery and the end product. In the past, all that people possessed were bare necessities such as clothes, shoes, sufficient food, and they were fully satisfied. Nowadays, people have clothes filling the entire wardrobes, many pairs of shoes and kitchens full of all kinds of gadgets. Television sets and audio systems take up all space and time available, so much so that people no longer have time to buy fresh food and cook a delicious and nutritional meal. They have no time to rest, no time to get together with family and friends, no time to read a good book, no time to quietly think about the meaning of life and no time to select a lifestyle that does not harm the planet Earth. Until one day, when they get a heart attack and leave without a word, or the doctor announces a terminal illness, with only 3 or 6 months left to live, only then, are they forced to finally slow down their pace. However, by then, perhaps there is really no time left.

Many people usually get to know Lapis Lazuli Light for the first time because they are ill. Some of them will slow down their steps to practice a total healthy lifestyle. They will spend time to look for, or even grow their own natural fruits and vegetables that are free of chemicals or other form of pollution. They will spend some time to get close to nature, practice Chi Gong, exercise, meditate and clear their emotions and mind. However, there are still many who use “no time” as an excuse for not doing what they should and keep on searching for the “miracle pill” that would cure them without taking up their precious time. Once, when I was in New York, I met a lady who talked to me about her illness. She had a lot of pressure from work and suffered from anxiety. I suggested that she find time to just take walks, and asked an experienced friend who was with me, to explain to her the concept of total health. The result? We were given the usual “I have no time”, for an answer. The next day, when we met again, the lady inquired whether shopping was considered walking? At that moment, it suddenly came to me that, many illness are results of the pace of life that is much too fast. To really experience total health, people have to slow down and change their usual way of life. Some people are forced to slow down when they get sick.

The French have always made fun of Americans for not knowing how to enjoy life. They work from morning to night, and rush even when they are on vacation for that precious couple of weeks. Americans do not know how to appreciate the joy of eating, even when they have the money to do so. They gulp down their meals. Therefore, fast-food joints selling hot dogs and hamburgers have spread all over American cities and towns. Unfortunately, they are just as quick in destroying a person’s health and the environment. You only have to see how fast a bulldozer can wipe out a whole stretch of forest to fully understand the meaning of “rapid destruction”.

Often in this hectic lifestyle, one forgets what is most precious in life. The late Albert Szent Gyorgi, who was awarded the Nobel prize for discovering Vitamin C, had spent many years researching in his laboratory. His personal life was not fulfilling. He was married four times, one of the wives died from cancer. When Dr. Szent Gyorgi was in his nineties, people asked him if he was given another chance, what would he have done with his life? He answered that he would have given more time to his relationships. Many, in their deathbed, while drawing their last breath, had regretted not spending more time with their loved ones. Not a single one ever said that he regretted not having worked more!

Fulfilling marriages, deep friendships and loving relationships between parents and children, they all need time to cultivate. To understand and know matters, we need time as well. To appreciate life at a deeper level, we need even more time to contemplate and experience. When I was working in Houston, discussions with my superior were usually limited to only fifteen minutes. As we talked, we would glance at our watches. Besides research work, I also taught Chi Gong and gave classes at CG Jung Educational Center. At night, incoming calls were non-stop, and the callers were usually patients from distant places, inquiring advice on their illnesses. In 1987, I made a trip to India and stayed in the Himalayas. There was no telephone, no car, no meetings and discussions. My room did not have a kitchen, and not even a toilet. It was totally quiet. Outside my front door was the mountain and complete silence. After 6 months, I digested the previous hectic ten years of my life. In addition, I realized at a deeper level many things that I have not understood before. Sometimes when I was walking in the mountains, and saw the Indians who lived in small houses, enjoying the magnificent scenery of the mountains while sitting under a tree with his family. I could not help comparing them to those people back in Houston. Many go to work every day, spent one to two hours traveling on the expressways, and reach home only at night. I really wondered who – the Indian or the American – possesses real happiness. What is wealth?

“Having no time” would mean “not being able to digest”. It can be food, information, emotions, or spiritual feelings. If you are not able to digest it, it becomes garbage, and turns into pollution.

Slow down your pace, to digest what your ears are hearing, what your eyes are seeing, what your nose is smelling, what your tongue is tasting. In other words, all that your body and senses have contact with. Switch off your television set, your radio and audio system, your computer, put down your work, the newspapers and instead focus on the people and scenery around you. Is this what you dream of? Is this what you wish for in your life? Or what you are avoiding? You just have to start slowing down your steps and start to ask, to inquire, and you will find that every question has an answer, and every wish can be fulfilled. Only then you can recreate your dream. It will be fulfilling, and it doesn’t matter whether it is personal or environmental. All that is valuable require time, simplify your lifestyle and you will have more time to spend on meaningful pursuits. “Having no time” is no longer an excuse, and the emptiness in life will be more fulfilling. And when you arrive at the last day of your life, you will find that you have no regret in life.