The Art of Slowing Down

A paradox: slow down to efficiently move fast.

What does slowing down mean to you? In Western culture, slowing down can mean laziness, complacency, lack of ambition, and going nowhere in life. We forget that there’s another and perhaps truer meaning of the phrase slowing down that can be applied to our fast lives.  Amidst the chaos, can we find time to quiet our minds, slow down our breath, and create full awareness of our surroundings? Can we get rid of mental distractions, agitations, and cravings and replace them with simply being in the moment? Much in the same way we exercise to take care of our physical health, we need to slow down to take care of our mental health.

Slowing down is a big part of managing stress and enjoying our lives. When we don’t take time to slow down, stress builds up until we feel too overwhelmed to act. When we slow down and relax, our minds are clearer and our hearts are more open. We see problems and solutions more clearly. It’s easier to manage difficult feelings, and it’s easier to see the good side of things. Slowing down can be achieved in multiple ways: practicing yoga, meditation, tai chi, and breathing exercises are popular activities. Other people enjoy reading, making art, playing golf, spending time in nature, or playing with pets.

When we slow down, our minds are clearer and our hearts more open.

Yoga and meditation are great practices. Studies show that meditation balances the neural networks in our brain. Attentional skills are sharpened, leading to a more tranquil and happier state of being. Yoga is moving meditation. Anyone who has practiced yoga will notice the mental and physical shifts they’ve created after an hour-long practice. There’s a feeling of calmness, centeredness, and balance. There’s clarity in thought, kindness in the heart, and a deep appreciation for the simple things and simply being.

Yoga is moving meditation.

The irony of it all is that when we slow down, we become more effective at everything we do. There is a saying: “Meditate for 20 minutes a day unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour”.  So true… so true. 

If you substitute “meditate” with your own personal way of slowing down, what would that be?