I took a chill pill this week, figuratively not literally, but yes this week was about mellowing out. In case you are wondering, the Kool Aid from the chill out movement has far less chemicals than the original one we were brought up on. This week my most recent article came out in Elephant JournalIn Celebration of Slowness. This article was taken from one of our tea time chats and was about the pursuit of sloooooowing down. It has been quite curious that this article hasn’t gotten many hits. Hmmmmm seems slowing down is not exactly sexy or even seemingly attainable in today’s world. I surmise this because as I discussed in the article, despite a very long history of being on the go, I am playing with the concept of pausing more often myself. As if the Universe hadn’t already given me enough signs I found this sign on the entrance way to Nine Zero hotel on my very blustery walk to Downtown Crossing in Boston the other day. Gotta love that Universe, right? Although not surprisingly I see the sign and in attempting to take a picture I get nearly plowed over by many people pushing past me to get to wherever they were going. Hmmm a moment of irony, love it! We are often in a very big rush to get no where fast. On the East Coast we eat fast, drive fast, walk fast, and talk fast. We mean business and if you don’t then get out of the way is often the mindset. We tend to do all these things very fast until we can’t. Carl Honore’s Ted talk in my article speaks to the possibility of slowing down before your body forces you through illness. What a novel idea, right?
How do we bring a bit of slowness into our fast paced life? You may be feeling like that is not even possible. Like it’s some bs being spun by someone who has the luxury to slow down. Well, if I am said person doing the spinning my answer would be a resounding no not necessarily. We all struggle with the demands that life places on us. In our last chat Liberate Yourself from Samsara we discussed the cycle of samsara which is the journey that the soul goes through when moving through different incarnations in a process to work through karma from the previous lifetimes. We come into this lifetime with “baggage” that contributes to the way in which we relate to the world. It affects us inter-personally but it also affects our relationship with ourselves. If in past lifetimes you had a harsh relationship with yourself, you may continue to do so until you are able to learn how to have a loving and kind relationship with your soul. The belief in karma offers a plethora of shades of gray to the understanding of the way you do the things you do. Ah kinda like that Temptations song
I know random, that’s my mind, I was raised on Motown music…back to our topic. If we factor in karma, it gives us the opportunity to open our minds and hearts to the varied life experiences that impact our present day life. So the question remains, how do we work with our karma to begin to make strides in working through it in an effort to slow down and bring more compassion into our lives?
For me, I work on being more regular with my meditation practice: not only sitting meditation but utilizing the breath on a moment to moment basis. I explain to my clients that the difference between reacting and responding to stress is the difference between the big FU blow out and stepping back from the ledge to pause wondering what just occurred. The big FU is dramatic, empowering in the moment, full of adrenaline and full of ego. The FU is like being the tantruming 2 year old who wants what they want when the want it. The pause is practicing taking responsibility for your emotions rather than projecting them onto others. Those folks that were pushing me over to get some where in Boston probably were coming from or on their way to giving someone a piece of their mind. The stress response in the body sets off a bio-chemical warfare that takes us on this emotional roller coaster. If we are capable of catching it before the ride takes off, we are golden. Utilizing our breath is the key piece in the process. After that, softening around some of those sharp edges to maybe do a little bit less or to do whatever you are doing less perfectly. As I soften the edges and bring attention into my breath on a moment to moment basis, I begin to notice that a lot of the angst is self driven. My guess is that is true for a lot of folks. While we have pressures coming from outside, it is the pressures that we put on ourselves from the inside that drive us towards crashing into the brick wall up ahead. Learning your body’s limits both physically and emotionally are key in the process of learning how to slow down.
For today, what figurative chill pill will you take to help you slow down? I will drink some of my favorite herbal tea, go for a walk even though it’s cold and find someones’ dog who is lonely to play with for a few minutes.