Slow down, you’ll get there quicker
About the AuthorTamsin Edwards is the Office Manager at Elevate Wellness Center. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call us at 530-541-9355. Visit www.elevate- wellness.com or follow us @elevatewellnesscenter.
It’s finally here. This most loved and hated season. The one so many of us rely on for our paychecks, and the one we so look forward to in the depths of winter. And yet, it’s inextricably one that many of us despise in equal measures with the onslaught of traffic, never ending construction zones and myriad of alternative transport options that invade the sidewalks.
As a result of all this, we might find ourselves rushing from a to b. Trying to get it all done, but finding that we can’t get anywhere, that we’re stuck in a jam again, or that everyone seems to be moving at 15 mph.
What if we all decided to slow down? And what if by slowing down, we could achieve more?
“Across the world, we are realizing — both individually and collectively — that our obsession with speed is wearing us down, undermining the quality of our lives, and otherwise making us sick,” Michael Finkelstein, MD, wrote for HuffPost.
Life is always going to be busy, in some way shape or form. But for the sake of your health and happiness, you might find it benefits you to take some time out here and there. The hyper stressed state many of us find ourselves in has given way to so many diseases being pushed to the forefront of the chronic sickness epidemic.
OTC medications and anti anxiety prescriptions are through the roof, not to mention the vast amounts of caffeinated drinks that are being consumed, refined sugar that is swallowed and processed junk food that lines our intestines.
There was a Tibetan Buddhist and meditation master named Chogyam Trungpa who taught that if we move slower, and speak mindfully, we may experience far fewer struggles in life. Multitasking doesn’t always pay off! The stress we experience while trying to tick off everything on our to-do list can cause chaos, mistakes, upsets and suffering for yourself, and potentially others affected by your actions.
The happily tooting along tourist, or little old lady, is quite content and calm driving 20 mph along U.S. 50, while you are all white knuckles and clenched fists, muttering profanities under your breath. Who do you think suffers more in this situation?
So how do we practice moving slowly?
1. Set yourself reminders! Stick them to your computer, set alerts on your phone, write it on your hand, the mirror, stick it to the front door or steering wheel … wherever is unavoidable for you. Say it out loud as you see it: no speed = no struggle.
2. Peace activist and Meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests using a ringing bell sound, much as Pavlov did in his experiment with dogs and classical conditioning. He calls them Bells of Mindfulness and the idea is that you can condition yourself to stop moving, talking and be still, upon the sound of a bell ringing. Practice by setting your device or installing a bell in your house to ring every so often and use it as a reminder to check in with your breathing, relax your body and become mindful of slowing down.
“By stopping to breathe and restore our calm and our peace, we become free, our work becomes more enjoyable and the friend in front of us becomes more real. … With just three conscious breaths we can release the tensions in our body and mind and return to a cool and clear state of being,” says Thich Nhat Hanh.
3. Pause at a threshold: be it a room, a doorway, a store entrance, the start of a trail or the gym. Use it as a chance to stop in the moment, and also to acknowledge the transition. Take a second, find your breath, breathe deeply. Another great time to practice focused breathing: sitting at a red light, or waiting in line at the bank or store. Use what you have, wherever you find yourself!
Slowing down physically, even just for a moment in your day, can help you slow down mentally, too. We might find we can focus more, feel happier and stress less. If we experience less struggle, we allow ourselves to become more open to enjoy life’s great experiences and so enhance our lives in many different ways.
And perhaps, you might just find that you end up accomplishing more.
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