“When I slow down,
I go faster.”
– Old Japanese proverb
Perhaps you are old enough to remember those old Stan Laurel
and Oliver Hardy comedy classics. One recurring scene depicted
an exasperated Oliver turning to his reticent little pal Stanley
screaming, “Don’t just sit there. Do something!” That
statement largely reflects the attitude of movers and shakers in
the Western world: If you are not taking action and taking it
fast, you are not hitting the target – Ready, Fire, Aim!
Let’s examine that philosophy for a moment. If you recall,
each time Stanley reacted to Oliver’s urgent demands, he ran
around in a frenzy accomplishing very little except to provide
the audience with laughter from a comedy of errors. Consider
also the fabled race between the tortoise and the hare. The
hare was speedier than his opponent, but much less focused on
the goal. The tortoise steadily plodded along, and while the
hare became sidetracked, he ambled past to win the race, proving
that accuracy and persistence, in the long run, are more
valuable than speed.
Engaging in moments of stillness will enable your subconscious
mind to function at deeper levels than usual, moving beyond the
limits of self imposed boundaries of logic, space, and time.
You will experience moments of intuition, wisdom, creativity,
and a heightened state of mental clarity. Everything you do is
affected by your state of mind. If you speak and act with an
unclear mind, chaos will follow you, as a shadow clings to its
form. If you speak and act with mental clarity, peace and
prosperity will be your faithful companions.
Through clearing the mind, you will find the safe sanctuary of
your inner world. In bullfighting, that safe place is called
the querencia. This is a place in the bullring where the bull
feels completely safe. In the querencia, he can stop running
and gather his strength. He is no longer afraid. This is also
the place where the bull becomes most dangerous to his opponent.
It is the job of the bull’s opponent, the matador, to be aware
of the bull’s querencia and keep the bull from occupying this
place of wholeness. For humans, the querencia is a space in the
inner world of the mind. It may be a place we retreat to in
crisis or simply a place of deep inner silence. A change takes
place in people who find their querencia. They become calm,
peaceful, and strong.
Here is a simple exercise for relaxing and clearing your mind:
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Open your mouth
slightly and let your tongue rest gently against the soft palate
between the roof of your mouth and the back of your upper teeth.
Slowly inhale, expanding the diaphragm and abdominal area fully.
Pause for a short moment. Exhale slowly, contracting the
diaphragm and abdomen. Your exhale should take twice as long as
your inhale. Pause between each breath. Close your eyes and
let your breath flow back and forth from both your nose and
mouth. Do not try to resist any thoughts that arise. Simply
allow them to flow in and out of your mind, bringing your
attention back to your breath. After performing this pattern for
a brief time, you will notice your mind and body entering a more
relaxed and centered state.
Unstring Your Bow….
The Greek historian Herodotus recorded a brief, yet telling
story about King Amasis, who ruled in the 26th dynasty of Egypt
from 570 to 526 B.C. Amasis held a daily routine of working
diligently from dawn until noon, at which time he would abruptly
quit whatever meetings or court proceedings were going on, and
retire for an afternoon of leisure. He and his companions told
stories, played games, traded witticisms, and indulged in the
“free flowing barley ale.” According to Herodotus, royal
decorum wasn’t a high priority in the afternoon activities of
Amasis and his friends.
One day the advisors to the king reported to him that some
people looked unfavorably at his afternoon routine. These
folks, his advisors intimated, thought a king should act more
dignified, in a “kingly” manner so to speak – one befitting
someone of royal stature. The king listened attentively as the
advisors pleaded their case, and then responded, “When an archer
goes into battle, he strings his bow until it is taunt. When the
shooting is over he unstrings it again. If he didn’t unstring
it, the bow would lose its snap, and would be no good to him
when he needed it in battle.”
Herodotus said very little else about the king, except that
Amasis was the most prosperous leader in the history of Egypt.
Rest and relaxation are key ingredients for health and wealth.
Too much work, with too little recovery time, can be
overwhelming. As the tempo, complexity, and demands of work
escalate, downtime should be increased to offset the overload of
Are you unstringing your bow on a regular basis? If you were
arrested for being good to yourself would there be enough
evidence to convict you? Create time in your schedule to relax.
Go to a movie. Read a novel. Take a walk. Slip away for a
round of golf or a weekend of play with your mate, family, or
friends. The key is balance. As you blend leisure and
relaxation with work, you will notice a livelier spring in your
step and more snap in your bow.
Dr. Tom Massey is a performance coach, seminar leader, and author of books on health, successful living, and leadership including:
The ABC’s of Total Health: Practical Tips for Abundant Living
Tthe ABC’s of Successful Living: Getting What You Really Want
The ABC’s of Effective Leadership: Managing from the Heart