On Sunday I was invited by a friend to take a workshop on the “art of slowing down”. The agenda called for a 2-hour session of relaxation techniques and teachings. The dear friend who invited me was especially looking forward to gaining some tools in that much needed area for her. In her words via text 5 minutes prior to the start of the workshop “You will not be surprised to hear I am rushing to the slowdown class!!!”
In truth, I was just a smidge in front of her. What is it with the hurry up to slow down nature of our world? Why are we all so busy and late?
We have tools to help us manage our schedules – electronic calendars that remind us 15 minutes before we need to tackle the next item. Email 24/7 to keep us “connected” (or distracted, whichever applies to you!). Access to information in an instant – how did I ever get through life without Google feeding me answers to every waking question, no matter how trivial? Did I really need the name of that actress, or the menu for the new “my sushi shop” restaurant opening around the corner THAT INSTANT? Um, yes. Well at least it felt that way.
I find myself rushing to yoga just in time for the start of class; to a meeting even though I’ve planned for it; to the market too close to meal time; the bank right before it closes. And if I do arrive with a few moments to spare, I feel restless and anxious with thoughts of what I could have done with that time. It’s like if I have an extra minute, I’m slacking off or wasting precious moments, which is truly ridiculous.
In thinking about times when I chose or was forced to slow down, the benefits are clear.
For example, when I was doing triathlons for charity, I would wait a beat once the whistle blew for the swim start. That allowed me to avoid the frenzy and kicks in the head that typically happen at that nerve-wracking part of the race, and thus remain calm, start my swim with confidence and remain anxiety free.
An even more life-altering example is when I had foot surgery, giving me no choice but to slow down. I could barely get to the bathroom in my small apartment, let alone keep up with my usual work and social schedule! For weeks I was forced to rest, heal, read, think and rely on other people. I literally was on a “time out”.
Unexpectedly, it allowed me the room and mental space to calmly contemplate what was working in my life (work, friends, finances) and what wasn’t (romance). It was then that I made a conscious decision to be more open to love. It sounds silly, but I needed to slow down to see how I was sabotaging myself, and make room to embrace what I really wanted. It was August 2008, a time when I would typically and mindlessly be running to Montauk or to visit friends. However, given my lack of mobility I was quietly hanging in the city. On one of my first social outings, invited to by a close friend, I met my husband Bob.
I truly think that I wouldn’t have met him if I hadn’t had that “time out”.
I tease my dad when he says they only do one thing a day – go out to dinner, or food shopping, or visit a friend, or run an errand. But maybe they’re on to something?
What would happen if you gave yourself the gift of slowing down? Please take 5 minutes to look at your calendar. Is there anything you can cross off? Can you fill in some “time outs” for yourself to slow down? Perhaps you can leisurely walk to an appointment instead of run. Maybe practice some deep breathing prior to a meeting. Experience mindful eating, instead of gulping your food down. What can you do today to reap the benefits of slowing down, and how can you stop hurrying up to get there?
Please tell me about your experience, and what you noticed in yourself as a result.
I think this quote from Gandhi pertinent: “There is more to life than increasing its speed”.
I promise you, whatever it is you’re rushing to will still be there after your “time out”.
xoMarjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™