The Art of Slowing Down

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a concept. one I’ve actually written about before. “Chronic rushing.” Making a conscious shift toward stillness; slowing down. 

I am making an effort to CONSCIOUSLY slow down. Mindfully moving towards stillness in a society that charges ahead at full steam will create waves in your sense of calm. It’s subtle. Not stopping necessarily…just shifting. Shifting in the direction of stillness, steadiness. What I find can be felt through this gravitational pull towards steadiness is ease. Even amidst the chaos. Consciously slow down.

Think about it…when we’re really moving slowly it’s often as a byproduct of something outside of our control or something negative. Not always, but often. Traffic, illness, sleep deprivation, sadness, these all slow us down. Why not make it a part of our regular, sentient practice. 

Imagine…slowing down even when perhaps the calmest of exteriors aren’t present. Extending the same kindness and ease when busy and rushing as one would when free and breezy. I think of this often on my drive to work, or heck, even walking in and out of crowded places when I’m rushing. When I have a day off and I’m out and about I let everyone go ahead of me. I smile blissfully (and probably goofily) as the 90-something lady in line in front of me at the grocery store writes a check for ten minutes. I care not how many red lights I hit. Crowds and delays are of practically no bother…

But flash to mid-week, rush hour traffic and timed breaks? BOOM. It’s like flipping a switch. Suddenly people are in my way, making me late, screwing me over…you name it. Suddenly everything’s flipped on its ars and it’s me against the not-so-open road. 

Sound familiar?

I’ve been making a mindful effort lately to behave as I would in a realm where time is not an issue. To not mentally curse the people flying off the freeway and cutting me off, making me miss the light when I’m already running late to work in the morning. To realize that I, not they, was the one who decided to spend an extra ten minutes ogling my email or braiding my hair rather than getting out the door on time. Or making peace with the fact that I cannot control traffic, no matter how early I leave, and sometimes I’m just going to be late. Luckily there’s no one waiting on an operating table so, if I am indeed a bit late, the world will keep on spinning.

Chronic rushing is an epidemic. 

I spent the other day musing over the concept of time. What would life be like if we didn’t operate according to hands on a clock? What a revolutionary idea. It reminds me of a story I once heard about two men, one a Wester reporter and the other a Native American elder. They were spending the day together, the reporter interviewing the elder. About midday the elder asked the reporter, Are you hungry? The reporter checked his watch. Only you Westerners, the elder man spoke, sagacious and curious, check the time to answer whether or not you want food or sleep. 

Profound, right? I think of that all the time. I’ve written pretty in depth about this idea already. Using our internal clock to make decisions about our lives and feelings, to the extent we’re able. In modern society it’s only feasible to a certain extent, and I get that. I suppose this is just a call to action, of sorts, in terms of reconnecting with one’s intuitive rhythms.

We reconnect with our intuitive rhythms by slowing down.

I’m not necessarily even saying do less. I’m just saying do what you do more slowly. Even a little more slowly. It will cultivate patience. I want to cultivate more patience and, therefore, kindness towards myself and others in my day-to-day life. Whether I’m rushing to work or enjoying a free and breezy day off. I want to be secure in the reality that time is going to tick on by whether or not I stress about it, and life is about so much more than what any numbers of any kind could represent.

So the next time you find yourself rushing, think of this. I will too. Take a full, deep, diaphragm breath. Find a moment of stillness…and then bottle that stillness, and carry it with you. Infuse movement with the essence stillness, and find peace in every moment.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Slowing Down

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