Ask anyone around you how they are, and a likely answer is ‘Busy!’. Right?
Everyone (ourselves included) seems to be always running: from one thought to the next, one meeting to another, from picking up the kids to getting groceries. Too much to do, no time to slow down or stand still.
While you are running around like this, usually some things happen: you loose your keys, you stub your toe, you mix up appointments, you forget an important thing, something doesn’t go like you thought it would.
Does that happen to you? Suddenly you get a flash of awareness where everything stands still for a moment and you realise that things are just flying by (including you) like on autopilot. That flash, that sudden halt, allows you to see a bigger picture than the one you were running around in. You take a quick helicopter ride and see your life from above.
That is called present moment awareness.
And it is necessary to see the important things in life. Your mind likes to get stuck on ideas or beliefs in order to create its reality and make sense of the world. Yet, when we move too fast or on auto pilot, we do not realise that those ideas or beliefs no longer hold truth or have changed a long time ago.
So slowing down helps us revisit. It gives us the ability to take control over our life again. A Taoist proverb says: We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.
And that is so true! So let’s slow down!
Sure Miranda, you say, I’d love to but first of all I have too many things on my plate and secondly I have no clue how to slow down.
Let me help you with that.
First let me tell you this: rushing through life is an act of violence against your soul.
When you find yourself rushing, ask yourself: what is REALLY going on here?
Usually your ego is trying to rush things because it wants to get there fast or get it done in less time. And we all know that the ego is just the scared you… So what are you scared of? What perfect image are you trying to reach here?
Trust me: you get more life by slowing down and not forcing it, because you are more present, feel more, become more creative in the process and usually get more done in the end.
The below exercises are a starting point for slowing down. They can be done anywhere and take only a little time. The magic is that you can slow down like this without anyone actually noticing it 🙂
Your breath is the most grounding tool you have and it allows you to slow everything down instantly. Simply start by noticing your breath. Follow it’s movement from your mouth to your belly. When we focus on our breath, the body listens, quietens our thoughts and just IS.
Stop where you are for a minute and stand still. Feel your feet on the ground. Really feel them (ideally barefoot). Feel the energy in your feet and in the ground. Visualise yourself connected to the earth. See your feet having roots into the earth. Just stand there for a minute.
OUR SENSES: All of our senses contribute to awareness. Yet, due to our busy lives, we are often limited to the visual because there is no time for more. We get stuck with simply seeing things and thinking things. Yet there is a whole array of senses to help us stop, ground us, slow us down and make our experience so much more intense.
Next time you are about to eat anything, stop, breathe and force yourself to take small bites, leave the food in your mouth for a while, roll it around your tongue to make sure all your tastebuds get a taste of it. Chew slowly.
We live in a busy world with lots of noise. Good and bad noise. But we have forgotten how to really listen. To the person telling you her sorrow (because we think about our to do list or about which solution to give her to move things along), to the birds sing in the morning (because we are late for work and the kids haven’t even brushed their teeth), to the trickle of the little stream by your house or work (because you are always too busy to stop and enjoy it), to the breathing or your child asleep in his bed (because your mind is already tackling the list of things you can only do once they are asleep). So next time, take ONE MINUTE. Stop. And really LISTEN. ONE MINUTE!
Similar to the above. When was the last time you really stopped to smell something? Freshly cut grass, your boy’s hair, the aroma of freshly ground coffee, flowers in the garden… Why not create a minute every day of smelling something? If you do not have kids who’s hair your can smell or a garden you can wander into, you can simply buy some fresh oranges, or get some essential oils to spice up your home.
Smelling is also a very useful compass when it comes to people. We have an ancestral capacity for smell. We simply have let it become under-developed. Trust your smell again. Smell the fear when you’re in a wrong situation. Does that person smell ‘off’? Then he’s probably not right for you.
A warm hug from a friend, the velvety flow of that scarf in a shop, your cat’s fluffy hair behind its ears. When was the last time you noticed any of these touchy subjects? Touching things creates connection. Both physically (with he object or person) and in your brain (connecting synapses that were separate before).
Instead of running, try walking slowly. Instead of walking slowly, try moving in slow motion. Instead of walking, try floating, or dancing or jumping. Doing the normal in a different way is fun, fires up your brain and makes you aware of the present moment. So next time you come back from the bathroom or go to the printer, take your time to get there, go really, really slow. See what happens.
Slowing down for a minute or so like in the exercises above is a great start. Yet things only change when they are done more often and become a ritual or routine. So here are a few example:
- Create a morning routine: instead of alarm, hit button, get up,…try slowing this routine down and set the tone for the day.
- Create and evening routine: no screens 2 hours before bedtime, maybe a quick shower, lighting a candle, reading a poem, meditate.
- 3 tasks: you should not have more than 3 important to-do’s for the day. Sure we always have more, but reduce them to 3 each day.
- People first: yes the laundry needs to get done and the house needs cleaning, but your kid wants to play with you now. Always prioritise people over to do’s.
- Do nothing: schedule emptiness into your agenda. A few moments where you do absolutely nothing. No reading, no social media, no calls. Simply nothing.
- Plan less: for your next holiday, plan less activities for you and the kids. Simply enjoy the beach or pool or mountains.
Cool, but why is slowing down so great?
- Things become more intense.
- Experiences become deeper and stronger.
- You will experience more joy.
- Your relationship will become stronger.
- It empowers your actions.
- It’s relaxing.
- It puts you in the moment.
- Actions get optimised.
- You’ll get more done in less time.
- You take things less personal.
- You become more intentional and resilient.
- You will become happier.