BY Parvati

PART 7: The Tortoise and the Hare
(Continued from “To Be And Not To Do”)
An Ayurvedic doctor once encouraged me to “think turtle”. I was very ungrounded after a year living in India, where I had a near death experience and an entire unraveling of all I knew. With this simple slogan, he was kindly trying to help me ground and be more rooted in my body/being.
I have thought a lot about turtles over the years. The motto “think turtle” helped me grow calm when I would get wired up. It helped me feel more connected to the Mother Earth. Turtles, in their slow-moving bodies, seem powerfully connected, wise and humble.
The classic fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” became a personal favourite for me. The story is about a hare that mocks the slow moving tortoise and challenges him to a race. With cocky confidence, the hare quickly leaves the hare behind. With a strong lead in the race, the hare decides to take a nap. He awakens to find the tortoise crawling slowly and steadily across the finish line before him.
To me our minds are like the hare, jumping around, racing ahead in spurts and starts. The tortoise is like our deeper selves that we learn to trust, with which we must connect. We learn to see that the slow and steady ways of the tortoise are like a cool stream of consciousness that moves continually forward.
The tortoise is like the loving force of life in which we can rest. With the zippy vigor of the hare, we may find our tasks done, but with eventual exhaustion and not necessarily having enjoyed the journey. The tortoise flows with a quiet assurance along its path, without fight, without resistance, in humbled surrender to what is. He is more like the karma yogi that Krishna describes.
I know that the more I meditate, the more I go deeply within and find that place of immense perfection and expansion, the more I get done during the day. I have fooled myself at times and thought I had too much to do and could not possibly meditate that day, so I would cut my practice short. Sure enough, as the day progressed, my mind would become more scrambled, my thoughts less clear, my actions less direct. I know it to be true that when we take the time to slow down, we actually get more done. We also enjoy what we do far more than if we were in a stressed hurry.
Ask yourself what is your deepest joy and make sure you do that every day. Life is too short to be full of “shoulds”. I feel the best practice is to eliminate the word “should” from our vocabulary. Should comes from the outside, imposed upon us like Father Time. Joy arises from within, like a flower blooming to meet the sun. When we open to what is, we are happier. We relax. We enjoy. When we do not resist what is, we expand and so does our ability to think, to feel, to process and to act. We accomplish more in less time.
When we act by aligning to our deepest truth and to our highest potential, we experience the divine. Life flowers in joy, rather than in resistance and resentment. Time seems to expand to meet that which is essential. Small miracles seem to unfold, without effort. Slowing down, we meet the fullness of what is.
Every action is part of a whole. There really is no starting and stopping or beginning and ending. We exist within one flowing continuum.  We see our actions as finite, but everything we do affects a greater whole, beyond what we could ever conceive. Our place in this universe is perfect, precise, and interwoven into a fabric of existence that extends beyond our perception of a finite self.
This world is a reflection of the Divine. What we perceive, we experience as solid. Yet all that exists is dancing light energy in constant motion unrestricted by form. We experience reality as a reflection of our perceptions, what we want to see, until we learn to see through the grip of our ego into what is. Beyond our ego is the dance of pure consciousness arising, which manifests all that is as a cosmic dance of which we are a part. We see ourselves as finite, but really we have no beginning or end.
In the Old Testament, time was understood as a medium for the passage of predestined events. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, everything has its perfect place:
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.
A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.”
May we learn to free ourselves from the grip of fear of being not enough and awaken to trust the flow of the divine, of which we are an integral part.
May we enjoy all we have in gratitude.
May we meet each moment, as it is, with mindful presence and with a heart willing to humbly serve.