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  • Martha Engeman

Turtle, Hare or In-Between?

My granddaughter lives life at full volume. When she runs, she does it with every speck of her little almost two year old being, often with a giggle and smile on her face. When she greets other kids at the park, she lets her voice be heard with confidence. You may not know what she is saying, but you know that she is ready to play.

Some of my favorite times to watch her are when she is in a new environment and she starts to explore. First she stays in the areas around me. Then she will get a bit farther, stop, put her hand in her mouth, look around and contemplate her next step. Eventually she makes the decision to go even farther away from me.

We all have those times when we are confident and secure and those when we know we need to stop, pause, take a big breath and decide whether to take a risk or not.

When we are birthing something new, it can be scary. We may vacillate back and forth between taking a step and then moving back into our shell. It’s the dynamic tension of the hare who wants to go for it and the turtle who plods along slowly and sometimes just retreats into his shell and waits. It’s the pull between expansion and contraction. If we are expansive all the time it is just exhausting. There is a good reason that my granddaughter takes a daily nap. She needs the rest and retreat after interacting fully with the world for several hours.

As we begin to move back into the world after more than a year of COVID, we owe it to ourselves to pay attention to those times when we are ready to engage with the world and those when we need to rest and retreat. We are trained in our society to respond to the siren call of busyness and work. We can’t ignore outside influences and responsibilities, but we can balance them by listening to our inner voice, the one that tells us when we are full of energy, depleted, and everything in between. There is nothing worse than saying “yes” to something when every part of your body and soul is shouting “no”.

How do we learn to hear the inner voice of our own wisdom? One way that works for me is through meditation. When I take time to consciously focus on my breath and to bring my mind to a point of focus, over and over, my mind starts to feel expansive, like it can breathe. From that space of presence, the still, small voice within emerges. As I pay attention to that voice over time it gets stronger and clearer. I invite you to join me on Tuesday mornings from 8-8:30am eastern for free online meditation via Zoom.


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