I’ve had a recurring sickness over the last ten years. I think it may be because I am going too fast for my body. I guess I go off-center and then the body is affected.
“Your understanding seems to be on the right track. Everybody has to understand his body’s functioning. If you try to do something that is more than the body can tolerate, then sooner or later you will fall ill.
“There is a certain limit you can pull on against the body, but that cannot go on forever. You may be working too hard. It may not look too hard to other people, but that is not the point. Your body cannot tolerate that much; it has to rest. And the total result will be the same. Rather than working for two or three weeks and then resting for two or three weeks, work all the six weeks and reduce the work to half...simple arithmetic.
“This is very dangerous because it can destroy many fragile things in the body — being continuously overworked and then exhausted, depressed, and lying in bed and feeling bad about the whole thing. Reduce your speed, move slowly, and do it in an all-round way. For example, stop walking the way you walk. Walk slowly, breathe slowly, talk slowly. Eat slowly; if you take twenty minutes usually, take forty minutes. Take your bath slowly; if you usually take ten minutes, take twenty minutes. All around, activities should be reduced to half the pace.
“It is not only a question of your professional work. The whole twenty-four hours should be reduced; the speed brought back to the minimum, to half. It has to be a change of your whole life pattern and style. Talk slowly; even read slowly, because the mind tends to do everything in a particular way.
“A person who is too much of a worker will read fast, will talk fast, will eat fast; it is an obsession. Whatsoever he is doing, he will do fast, even when there is no need. Even if he has gone for a morning walk, he will go fast. Going nowhere... it is just a walk, and whether you go two or three miles makes no difference. But a man obsessed with speed is always speedy. This is just his automatic mechanism, automatic mechanical behavior. It becomes almost inbuilt. So stop this.
“From today, reduce everything to half. T’ai Chi will be very good for you. You will enjoy it tremendously. Stand, stand slowly; walk slowly, and that will give you a very deep awareness also, because when you do a certain thing very slowly — for example, moving your hand very slowly — you become very deeply alert about it. Move it fast and you do it mechanically.
“If you want to slow down, you will have to slow down consciously; there is no other way. You have been doing more than your body can keep pace with so the body drops, collapses.
“A few basic things have to be understood. There is no such thing as human nature. There are as many human natures as there are human beings, so there is no criterion.
“Somebody is a fast runner, somebody is a slow walker. They cannot be compared because they are separate; both are totally unique and individual. So don’t be worried about that. This is because of comparison. You see that somebody is doing so much and never goes to bed and you do something and have to go to bed, and so you feel bad and think your capacity is not as much as it should be.
“But who is he and how are you going to compare yourself to him? You are you, he is he. If he is forced to start moving slowly, he may start getting ill. Then it will be against his nature; what you are doing is against your nature. So just listen to your nature. “Always listen to your body. It whispers, it never shouts, because it cannot shout. Only in whispering does it give you messages. If you are alert you will be able to understand it. And the body has a wisdom of its own which is very much deeper than the mind. The mind is just immature. The body has remained without the mind for millennia. The mind is just a late arrival. It does not know much yet. All the basic things the body still keeps in its own control. Only useless things have been given to the mind — to think; to think about philosophy and God and hell and politics.
“So listen to the body and never compare. Never before has there been a man like you and there will never be. You are absolutely unique...in the past, the present, or in the future. So you cannot compare notes with anybody and you cannot imitate anybody. So drop that idea. For two weeks slow down. Start from this moment!”