I’ll tell you how the urge to slow down appeared in my life. It was in the middle of the most glorious cuddle you can imagine. My partner and I had, what was supposed to be, a lazy afternoon and I was planning an escape. I felt so irritated because I wanted to do something utterly unimportant- and didn’t have time for just “laying around and doing nothing”. As I was getting secretly more angry, and my partner more gentle and relaxed- I felt a voice in my head saying: Woooow… Is this what we’re doing now?
At that moment it hit me. This was pretty much my whole life summarized in one situation. I was always rushing, in constant need for stimulation and something to do. But not just anything, it always had the same purpose- improving myself, either financially or physically… even spiritually! But it had to be an improvement, because who I was in that moment was never good enough. This realization set me off on a journey of slowing down and this is what I learned (so far):
Happy Where You Are Now
Surprisingly harder than it seems… Contentment feels like another century. After all, how can you feel happy where you are- when there are dreams to chase and money to make? We’ve been bombarded with messages like that, a pressure to become Somebody. Nothing wrong with thriving to succeed, of course. But are we able to relax and at the same time be happy exactly where and who we are? Sometimes when you get in that mindset it may seem like the urge to become Somebody is out of this world purpose given to you by some higher forces (metaphorically speaking). Where in reality (whatever reality is) everything that we are doing is simply invented by us: our jobs, status and hierarchies- all invented. This is not a call to stop all material pursuits and call it “slow life”. Just to realize that everything we can ever experience, we can find only in the Now. So if you can’t be happy now, there are huge chances you won’t be happy Then. Whatever Then is.
Meditation? Absolutely, always. But that’s not what I mean by stillness. I’m talking about good old doing nothing. Or how society likes to call it- being lazy. It’s a shame that it has such a bad reputation… Can you even think of the last time you did it, without the phone or TV, or book, or podcast? At first it feels wrong, like you should be doing something not just sitting like that. Then all the suppressed crap arises, all the stuff we don’t like to think about. Then another quick urge to do something (for instance, take the phone). And finally, we calm down. Breath in, breath out… The benefits are countless but even beyond that- the act itself represents ultimate (21st century) freedom. Perhaps even ultimate self-love. Because what is more loving (and free) than allowing yourself to just be in the present moment, enjoy the stillness and not do anything?
I remember when I ate after 7-day fast I did once (maybe twice) a while ago. The love I had for the food… Appreciation. I was holding it, smelling it looking at it, I was so grateful. I didn’t want to rush it, just to eat it slowly and chew and chew and chew. It was a sacred ritual at that moment. I even remember where I was, it was so special. Sure, that’s a bit overboard (com’on, I didn’t eat for a week) but imagine taking the best out of it and treating food, not like something that has to be done, preferably fast- but a ritual. A reason to slow down, be mindful, enjoy the process of both: preparing and eating. And if you are blessed enough to have good company…
Women are particularly good at this, although men are not falling far behind either. In my mildest version, it looks something like: While dying my hair, I like to also use my time wisely by doing the mani-pedi (while I’m in that area) snack, watch a movie, clean the house, cook dinner and plan my future… Maybe squeeze in a kundalini session. This would be fantastic, iiiif the purpose of all of this was in order to kinda be done with all that has to be done. Alas, after that one comes another round of something similar. So what the problem is, is not multitasking on its own (although it’s been shown to have some negative effect on our brain)- but that obsessive time optimization, where everything has to be fitted together. Like that old game of Tetris where cubes are fitting other cubes. Which is the exact opposite of slow(er) life we might be craving. What is the solution?
I’m starting to realize that the solution for almost everything is the same- mindfulness. By being mindful, we can notice that frantic energy rising and simply let it pass us. It could look like:
- Okay so I’m doing this thing now.
- Oh wait let me check my email,
- Oh yes and let me also…
- Ooooh I see…
- Where was I?
- Okay, so I’m doing this thing now.
Before I leave you I want to share something I read that always inspires me to slow down. It’s from the book: “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism” by Fumio Sasaki.