The Difference between Speed and Hurrying

Westerners move fast, think fast, and process information rapidly. If you feel rushed, this is not a problem in learning to meditate. When you close your eyes, simply witness the speed at which your thoughts are moving, and do not "try to slow down," whatever that means. Let it be OK that your brain is processing thoughts and impressions at high speed, and do not interfere.

In reading about meditation, feel free to scan and find what interests you. Once you find something interesting, consider inventing new speeds of reading. There is one molecule of difference between information that is "out there" on the page, versus "in here" as part of your internal skill set. With meditation, you want what you read about to become part of your internal skills, that help you to adapt to your life and thrive.

So develop styles and speeds of reading the books or web-based information that suit your needs. Print it out and read it in the bathtub, or in a park. Explore what works as a place to read – a cofeeshop, your sofa, in bed, in the bath, out in nature. And be sure to look up from the reading and gaze at the scene around you, and breathe. Make it social – print something out and read it to a friend and discuss it. "Could this be true?"

So, don't think about slowing down your brain. Think about having more variety in your reading speed. Consider reading a sentence or paragraph then taking a walk and musing on it.  

It's more useful to read a page or two with leisure than to read many pages in a hurry. I like to read just one paragraph of some of my favorite meditation books, and then carry the flavor of that with me as I move through my day.


Hurrying is different than speed – it is anxiety about your pace, a sense that you should be moving faster, and a feeling of fear or guilt about what you have left undone. Hurrying feels punishing, and it is.

If you have hurry in your body, when you meditate, you will probably feel flogged by the anxiety behind the hurry. This is OK, just breathe with it. This is part of the process of relaxing, and would happen even if you were on a beach somewhere with an umbrella in your drink. When you meditate, you come into synch with yourself, and you often have to make amends to your body for pushing it so hard.

Do not think you are failing at meditation if you feel pain about your to-do list. One of the purposes of meditation for busy people is to be a place and time where you can come into balance with yourself. And "coming into balance" usually hurts, in the way that massaging sore muscles hurts.

Welcome the Anxiety

When you meditate, you will feel this anxiety and will be challenged to support it with relaxation. The secret is simple: if you breath with the anxiety and just feel it, it will gradually fade away.

Most people I know, when they have a quiet minute, find their brains zooming around their to-do lists. They are adapting to a new job or a promotion, are parents, entrepreneurs, are changing jobs, or planning a wedding, or the kids are going off to college. The brain operates very rapidly, and this is not a problem. You will be called upon to witness your speediness, to observe your to-do list, and shoulda-done list, zooming around in your awareness.

You do have to make a different kind of time available to yourself, though. In meditation, you witness your speed. You experience it. If anything, you can say, let's go faster. You need a willingness to feel all the sensations in your body having to do with speed.

Any sense that "my thoughts should slow down," will tend to interfere with your ability to meditate.

The sense of hurrying is a different element than speed. Hurrying is a kind of flogging, like when riders whip a horse to move faster. Much of American culture is deeply involved in hurrying. When we meditate, because we feel everything, we experience a kind of pain of the whip of hurrying. The feeling will go fade, the way the sensation of sore muscles goes away as they heal.

Welcome your speed, whatever it is, and welcome your thoughts. You can begin with few minutes here and there of exploring meditation and learning the principles. It is better to go at your own pace, whatever that is.