Time either flies or walks depending on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Do you get swept away by multi-tasking to-do lists, texts, ‘must-dos,' tweets and updates? Or do you allow yourself to be present in the moment and focus on one thing at a time?
As Debbie says, “smell the moment.” Smell is located in the oldest part of our brain and allows us to live life one moment at a time. A deep breath in allows us to slow down, and in doing so, more gets done. When we slow down and tune in, even the most mundane tasks can take on wondrous meaning, and the most stressful tasks can be relaxing. Life doesn’t happen when we have achieved x, y, and z. Life happens moment to moment.
There’s a saying in Buddhism: “If you’re going to do the dishes, do the dishes.” Thich Naht Hanh puts it like this: “If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
Perhaps you’re thinking “Honestly Joanna it’s only washing dishes.” Well, yes it is, but it is also a moving meditation. A slow moving meditation. I become aware of my feet as I stand; I relax my jaw; I sense the warm water on my hands. In these slower moments, life becomes art as I stack the clean dishes one by one in the wash rack.
Slow doesn’t mean being ineffective. Far from it; slowing down simply allows reflection and decisions of what you really want to focus on and achieve.
The Instant Age: An Age of Stress
We live in an instant age; instant messaging, instant noodles, instant photos, and instant credit. Is this healthy? Many studies point to this way of life being very stressful. Stress can impact the body in insidious ways including high blood pressure, insomnia, heart attacks and cancer to name a few. Slowing down may seem difficult at first but it is a habit that can be learned. I know from personal experience that it can be tough, but it’s well worth it. I had an intention to simplify my life and slow down these last few months. The result? I enjoy life more; I smell my food; I hear birds as I walk, and I love the simple things in life more and more. I am no longer multi-tasking my way through life. I am living and feeling each moment.
The Year of Conscious Movement
Racing around is not conscious movement. You can challenge yourself by moving very slowly for a day and ask yourself, “Do I really need that item?” when out shopping, or “Do I really need to put all that on my list?” Often the answer is a firm “no”!
Slow movement can have tremendous benefits. It helps us tune in to body sensations and choose pleasure and joy rather than pushing through a "no pain, no gain" day. We can still be directional and focused while being unhurried in our movements.
And let's not forget about the benefits of slowing down while we eat. After the holidays many of us want to lose a few extra pounds. Eating slower can help us eat less and feel satiated at the same time. The obvious benefit of slowing down while eating is more awareness of taste, texture and the smell of our food rather than guzzling as we race off to the next appointment. I write about how slowing down our eating habits can have a marvelous effect in my book, The Radiant Woman’s Handbook. I describe sitting in a restaurant in Paris and watching a woman eat her lunch; no phone, no book, no newspaper distractions, simply eating and enjoying food slowly – bliss.
What about slowing down talking? More listening, less thinking, less interrupting. I ask myself, “Can I be content with just listening?”
A Slow Down Resolution
I look at it this way, if we begin from a place of self-acceptance it helps us slow down and feel better. None of us are perfect, but in decelerating we find some perfect moments.
Here’s to a wonderful 2014. I trust you to enjoy a 'slow down' moment of each day of the 365 days ahead of you.