The Art of Slow
If you are looking for an article to give you specific guidelines on how to slow down to be more productive, please stop here. This post is about simple living, not working.
A growing number of us move through our days frazzled, not knowing when the day started or ended. Ask me what I had for dinner last night and I probably won’t remember. Why? Because it was uneventful … why? Because I ate fast and was reading while eating. This is not artful living. It is existing.
We live in a world where bigger is better, faster is cooler and more is never enough.
We travel the world seeking adventure, thinking these are the experiences worth having and stories worth telling. But once we come back home and go about our daily business, memories start to fade and we’re back to the same old song and dance of chasing time and juggling activities.
If the mega adventures can’t give us long-term satisfaction, what can?
An ongoing stream of meaningful daily experiences is what matters in the long-term. If you think of your life as the biggest adventure in the world, every little thing you do can become a memorable experience.
To add meaning to your life why not replace the mantra above with the following:
We can enjoy every experience where smaller is more memorable, slower is calmer and less is contentedly enough.
Slow living is an art because it allows for the expression and realization of the beauty, elegance and magnificence of life.
When you slow down, everything around you will have more meaning: you gain more clarity, you appreciate more and you live more.
Below is a sample of experiences that won’t cost you a lot of money. They will take more of your time. That is the point: slowing down and taking your time to enjoy your life. Read slowly and imagine how you will feel when you experience or do any of these activities. After reading, think of what other little things you can do that will add meaning and beauty to your life.
Taking a bath. Take a long bath instead of a quick shower. Experience the warmth of water and its soothing effect. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Relax your body, breathe and let go.
A walk around the neighborhood. Walk slowly and notice the architecture. Think of the intelligence behind the design and the skill and effort that went into building every structure. Appreciate the smooth roads and walkways. Feel your feet as they touch the ground.
A supermarket adventure. When you visit the supermarket, don’t rush to buy what you need and leave. Look at your surroundings. Think of the creative process that went in to every product on the shelves. Think of the men and women who spend hours every day making sure that everything you need is available. Look—really look at the colorful produce and the variety of fruits and vegetables. It can be overwhelming … in a good way.
The beauty of noise and silence. Take some time and listen. Don’t mask the sound around you with loud music. Listen to the humming of engines, the soft sound of rain drops, the wipers squeaking back and forth. If you’re at home, listen to the ticking of the clock or the sound of air flowing through vents. Be one with the rhythm of life around you, even for a brief moment.
Savoring the taste. Food is not only fuel; it can be an indulgence. Share a meal with loved ones: relishing every taste, eating a little, talking a little, laughing and enjoying the conversation.
The magic of the local park. Taking a walk in the local park can be a very enlightening experience. Stopping at every tree, thinking about its age, its story and its contribution to life. How it can withstand the various weather conditions, how many people have passed it by. There are forms of life coming practically out of nowhere. You see all sorts of weeds sprouting in the harshest of conditions. There is beauty in the stillness of creation—even if it is unwanted sometimes.
Washing the car. It is better for you and the car to wash it by hand. Do it slowly. Notice how the water flows, how the suds clean and the car starts to shine. Take a moment to appreciate the brilliant design and the new technologies used in your car.
Playing games. The most fun I had last summer was when my brother and his family visited and we played cards and Jenga. Play at a leisurely pace. Have fun and connect with others.
Drinking a hot beverage. Sip slowly on a hot cup of coffee or tea. Savor the taste, feel the warmth and cherish the moments of stillness.
Waking up slowly. If you wake up at a certain hour every day, can you do it without an alarm? Wake up listening to the sounds of life around you or to the silence of the early hours. Stay in bed for a few minutes. Think about all the fun and brilliant things you can do today.
Stretch your body. Just like dogs and cats do—slowly and lazily. Do you see how relaxed they feel after? They take their time, no clock ticking, no appointments. Feel the energy of breath as you stretch and breathe.
Self reflection. The biggest most magnificent piece of creation that I am aware of is … you. Take a deeper look at you—your body, your mind, your abilities. Close your eyes and slowly feel the energy of life in your body. With every breath you take, life around you changes. Make it a daily habit to reflect on your days and appreciate the miracle of creation that you are.
The wonders of imagination. Creativity is an essential element of the human experience. Give yourself time to daydream and let your imagination run wild. Read books and stop to think about how the words are woven to create a story. Watch a movie and think of the vision and the collective collaboration that brought the written words into life.
Your life is yours to live. You can race through time in a frenzy or slow down to enjoy the small steps of your journey. The choice is always yours. You can own time or let it own you.
You may not be able to slow down all the time, but you can start now. Think slowly, breathe slowly, love slowly, get angry slowly. When you slow down, life becomes more fascinating … more enjoyable and way more meaningful.