The Art of Slowing Down

There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.  -- Ghandi

A deep connection to Life is felt when we slow down.

 

Slowing down has been shown to increase creativity (a.k.a. productivity) and happiness.

 

If I don't consciously slow down, I turn into a firecracker burning brightly and chaotically from both ends. And when I've popped, I suffer from serious burn out. Burn out includes adrenal fatigue,  depression, and the Can't-Be-Bothereds.

 

Have you heard of the Slow Movement? It has gained some momentum recently (heh...) and I'm all for it! It's based on slowing down and simplifying so we can realize our relationship with the world around us.

 

Slowing down our experiences of food, education, travel and work offers us the opportunity and space to notice the beauty and complexity of life without being overwhelmed or confused by its enormity.

 

We can start slowing down by noticing the small aspects of life that give us a sense of joy or inspiration and give gratitude for the things that keep our lives interesting.

 

Rest in those moments. Really, it's okay - rest. Take a breath.

 

Next, we get to choose an aspect of our lives that we love and would want to form a more intimate connection with. For me, food is the first and easiest choice.

 

I make little goals for myself:

Prepare ##  meals from scratch each week.

Reduce the amount of processed foods I eat (no package = unprocessed).

Buy organic when feasible to support small farms and slow farming practices.

Eat slowly and chew gently.

Turn off distractions like TV or Internet (a hard one for me!).

Notice the smells and flavors of your food.

Make mental notes about what you might do differently next time.

Repeat.

 

Once we start slowing down, how do we continue? We have to be motivated to continue. For me, the motivation is my mental and physical health, it's the wellbeing of the community I'm living in, it's the economic and environmental health of our world.

 

If you feel compelled to continue, then we find the next aspect we want to tackle. Choose one, or do a little bit of everything. Whatever you can do and want to do!

 

My next aspect is transportation and travel. I walk when I can, I cycle when I can and I use public transportation when I can.

 

Maybe we slow down our approach to working so we are more thorough and find a sense of joy in the process, instead of rushing through so we can get to the next thing.

 

Or maybe yours is shopping:  Reveling in the fun of hunting for the next thing to buy at second hand shops and garage sales instead of making that impulse buy online.

 

What's that feeling we get when we get to do something slowly? 

A sense of presence. Being here. Now. A sense of reverence or ritual in the way we go about our daily tasks.

 

What is rushing?

I've come to know it as a state of mind. I can move about quickly without feeling rushed.

 

The difference is in how my shoulders feel (are they relaxed or are they tense?), maybe I have a soft smile on my lips instead of a furrow between my brows.

 

It's also in how I approach the inevitable obstacles to my task. If I'm rushing I might come at it with all my force, even with a sense of martyrdom as if I would take one for the team in order to overcome this obstacle. If I'm not rushing, I have the space to approach obstacles with more curiosity and playfulness.

 

For those of you feeling frayed at the ends, here is some inspiration to get you started on your journey of slowing down.

 

 

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