In celebration of slowness
Lately my body has been telling me “Stop the Madness” and yesterday I began to listen. I had a day when I woke to find myself spent from all expending so much energy lately that my body needed rest. In the flurry of activity and challenge, my body and brain was on speed from stress which wore me down. Ever have a time like that? I bet you have. We all experience these times. My day off filled with self care told me that while my body was craving slowing down, my mind had been competing with these messages my body was giving me. It is easy to listen to listen to my body when I am at my favorite place, Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA pictured above but harder when I am in the city caught up in the fast paced energy. Recently I listened to a Ted talk about what is now being termed “the Slow Movement.” Carl Honore discusses in his talk “In praise of slowness”
Honore discusses that he came to research the concept of slowness by realizing how his fast paced life was deeply affecting him physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. His light bulb moment was when he read an article in the New York Times about a new line of bedtime books for children that was called “the one minute stories.” He shared how part of him thought that it would be awesome to cut down the amount of time it took to read to his son and another, much larger part, knew that there was something deeply wrong with this feeling. He discusses how now a days everything is fast paced including work, relationships, sex even things that are meant to be about slowing down such as yoga are getting faster and faster. Honore discusses that there has begun a global shift towards slowing down that has even spread to many European cities. He cites that statistics have also found that those living in designated “slow cities” are not doing any worse off financially than their fast paced counterparts. Well I can tell you that Boston has not adopted this way of life. Slowing down in the East Coast involves still multi tasking at a fairly fast pace. The concept that adopting a slower pace of life increases the quality of our relationships is nothing new but it is still very difficult for people to fully grasp on how to integrate this very important life lesson into our current day lives.
I have been intrigued by the concept of slowness for quite a while. Yoga was my entry point into this fascination. I came to yoga as a form of exercise and practiced very fast paced in hot studios at the onset. My Type A, anxious personality could not slow down for the life of me. I would do yoga or go to the gym, come home eat and then go walk for an hour to continue to burn off my anxious energy. Today, some of that energy remains with a much kinder slower edge to it. Some of the sharp edges of my beach stone have been gently warn by the practice of yoga, meditation and the influx of supportive like minded friends and supports. While the edges have been softened, the energy to be the best version of myself is still there. The competition comes when the old vision of my best self bumps up against the newer kinder version that has been cultivated over the years. A handful of years ago I was at a flea market with my mother and found the book “The Simple Life” by Charles Wagner. It was a very old beautiful book that had been copy written in 1901. I took to the book from it’s first paragraph “The sick man, wasted by fever, consumed by thirst, dreams in his sleep of a fresh stream wherein he bathes, or of a clear fountain from which he drinks in great draughts. So, amid the confused restlessness of modern life, our wearied minds dream of simplicity.” He goes on to state “The thing called by this fine name–is it a vanished good? I do not think so. If simplicity depended upon certain exceptional conditions, found only in rare epochs of the past, we must indeed renounce all idea of realizing it again. Civilization is no more to be brought back to its beginnings than the flood-tide of a river to the peaceful valley where alders meet above its source. But simplicity does not belong to such and such economic or social phases; rather, it is a spirit, able to vivify and modify lives of very different sorts” Wow, this was written in 1901! He speaks about how life was complex back then. If he only could see where we were headed, right?
Simplicity is not about escaping but about being. Yesterday I took a day to BE. I read a book just for enjoyment. I practiced a little yoga. I had hot chocolate and watched a favorite movie. I spoke to a new like minded acquaintance and I took a long walk on Halloween to my tap class in Cambridge. It was simple because I made it simple. I did what my body and spirit wanted me to without forcing solutions. It was beautiful. I had a plan for this morning but my body seemed to need to rest longer than usual so it didn’t happen. Listening to the ebb and flow of our body is the same as me listening to the leaves being blown by the trees outside my window today. It is there for the taking. It is what is happening right now should I want to pay attention to it. When I choose to pay attention, I learn so much information about what is going on inside. During my walk last night I was able to access important information inside that I needed to help me manage a conflict that has arisen. I would never have been able to do this if I stayed moving at the speed of lightening.
Just for today…how will you slow down and listen to your body? How might you cultivate a more loving kind relationship with your body and spirit’s needs?
Cheers to cultivating the space to celebrate slowness!
[…] I am sure it is of no surprise to those that know me or may have had tea with me during our chat In Celebration of Slowness, Tigger was my favorite growing up. You know how they say that people’s pets resemble them? […]
I loooove everything about this!!! Learning how to slow down and live a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle helped me tremendously. It reduced my stress and I feel like I’m finally living fully. I was talking to someone about the importance of slowness, and couldn’t word it quite right. This was a great reminder.
That’s awesome! Thanks for your feedback! That was written a couple of years ago during one of the worst winters here in Boston. I hear we are in for another doozy so there will be plenty of time for slowing down this year I am sure! Best wish to you:) Cheers!