Slippery floors and slippery minds

Dear quarter lives,

As I was walking the other day in the rain, I noticed I was much more aware of my body than usual. Because the floor was wet and covered in slippery autumn leaves and because I was afraid of slipping and falling, I paid attention to every step I took. I was so present with my body and the floor I was stepping on. As I noticed my heightened state of awareness, I realised that I don’t walk with such awareness when the weather is nice and the floors are dry. In fact, when it’s nice out, I walk with much less awareness of my body because I’m not worried about losing my balance. I feel safe walking on dry ground because I do it all the time; it’s the texture I’m most used to walking on, so I don’t really think about it and I don’t expect to slip walking on it either. And that observation got me thinking about how we face our own inner slippery floors. It got me thinking that there is something about perceiving potential danger that can be very constructive. There is something about finding yourself on slippery grounds that stops your attention from slipping away.

Perhaps, that’s why in a crisis, as we try to navigate the uncertainty around us, we find that the not knowing in itself is what forces us to pay attention to ourselves again precisely because we think we might be in danger of slipping, and so if we don’t pay attention we might fall and break something or die. And so our presence here and now becomes necessary for our survival. Trying to maintain our balance when walking through such unknown grounds forces us to notice what we’ve taken for granted. It forces us to pay attention to our feet. It forces us too to end our dependency on the forces of habit as this heightened perceived sense of danger shakes the expectation that our feet know what they’re doing on their own. It forces us once again to build that connection between our body and our mind. So we all need to step on a slippery floor every now and again to bring our attention back to the places we haven’t even realised we’d disconnected from.

Slippery floors show us what parts of our bodies we trust and what parts we don’t, but most of all, a slippery floor can show you just how out of it your mind was, as it brings your mind again back into the present moment. We go through crises not because we are bad or because some god is mad at us, we go through crises to come back again to our Selves, to rekindle our relationship with our bodies, to make peace with the unknown aspect of time — the future. It might not seem like it at first, but a crisis is a massive gift. It is an opportunity for us to return to life by returning to the moment.

So next time you step into an office or a mall and see a sign that says, ‘Caution: wet floor’ – notice how your awareness of your body suddenly shifts as you step onto that slippery floor. Notice how your mind that was thinking about a million things is all with you now. People who do slip, fall because their attention wasn’t with them, and not because the floor was wet. They fell because they were still thinking about the million and one things they had to do while walking on a slippery floor. That is why the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re going through something is meditating, exercising, singing, or any other practice that helps build your awareness muscle, because if you can feel your body as it moves through that slippery floor, you will make it to the dry ground safely and in one piece. It is our presence that carries us through our own slippery floors, and it is our own slippery floors that offer us the opportunity to heal our own slippery minds by bringing us back here.  

Happy Contemplating!

Always for peace, 

S.A.

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