The idea that you would try to be present throughout all of your day--mindfulness--is not a new concept, but it's pretty foreign to many modern Americans. Instead, "Spacing out," "making it through," and "counting down" express our thoughts on how many normally survive and live each day; whether it's to escape our boring or difficult workday, our arduous commute, or our five day workweek, we're constantly looking to the future--the weekend!--when our time will be our own.
Mindfulness, it seems, to some people, is a practice for which they do not have time. Today, however, I would like to argue for both mindfulness and simplicity, or, at the very least, slowing your regular life down.
Just like when you need to find the keys you misplaced, make the maneuver around a vehicle taking up too much of the street, or chop for dinner, there are some aspects of life for which it is worth slowing down. As mindfulness is soaking up each moment, how much easier is that when you aren't racing through? Reflecting on your child's last birthday, your best friend's last visit, or the last time you did something for yourself, slow is good. If you raced through these, anxious, fast-talking, and impatient, you'd surely regret it.
That's exactly how mindfulness is, but it can apply not just to the times you expect will be good, but even those you may have previously been inclined to hurry through. Slowing down can help you to see the moments of your life in a different light and change your perspective.
Take a moment and think of your all-time favorite song. Do you have it? Now, imagine that you have only ever heard your favorite song in fast-forward--sounding more like Alvin and the Chipmunks than Van Morrison, Elton John, or Sam Cooke. Do you think you would still love the song? Or do you think, perhaps, that some parts of life must be slow to be savored?
Like many authors, poets, and musicians before him, Jack Johnson's "Inaudible Melodies" is an excellent Mindful Monday reminder to go slow and take it all in.
If you still need more convincing, check out this TED Talk in praise of slowness (approximately 20 minutes long, but if you slow down, relax, and allow yourself the time, you'll enjoy it; plus, you're worth it!), by author Carl Honoré. The author of several books on slowing down, Honoré promotes taking time to live your life, instead of racing through it and feeling a time crunch.
In the above talk, he mentions the Slow Movement, encouraging slowing down through a variety of everyday activities. It provides ideas on how you can downshift and rethink your priorities. With topics such as slow food, slow travel, slow schools, slow books, and even slow cities, the slow movement is an attempt to put the brakes on all of our busy, over-booked lives and give the time needed to live fully.
My favorite among them, slow food, is in direct opposition to fast food and fast food culture. Whether you declare yourself slow or you simply start to slow yourself down a little each day, you can make a difference in how your day goes.
Here are some ideas to slow down today:
- chew, don't chomp your food
- sip, don't gulp your drink
- stroll, don't scurry through the hall/ office/ store/ sidewalk
- drive, don't speed to your destination--it'll be there when you get there
- [one I love from Honoré's talk] take time with your child's bedtime story, maybe even throw in some extra voices/ questions/ or even speculate about alternative narratives/ endings
- converse, don't chit-chat--fall into a meaningful conversation with someone you love
- relax, don't anxiously exercise/ move/ stretch--especially in an activity like yoga, take time to feel your body move and feel your muscles relax as you allow them to do so
- enjoy the book/ radio program/ show/ class/ training/ group you're experiencing, don't rush through to get on to the next thing
Making small steps towards slowing down will really add up. Mindfulness will come much more naturally, if you take time to catch your breath once in a while.
Have a slow and happy day!
Labels: Go Ahead--Try It!, Life, Mind & Body, Videos