Slow, the forgotten luxury. In our increasingly fast paced world, where efficient productivity is key to survival, people are frantically burdening themselves with more and more to do. Considering that a majority of emergency room visits are for stress related symptoms, and most all chronic, degenerative conditions are lifestyle based, it would seem that our breakneck pace is driving us along a shortcut to a dead end.
The Feeling of Fast
Now, most of us are familiar with the age-old adage of the tortoise and the hare, but forget the fabled story everyone knows, and instead take a moment to consider a real rabbit and turtle. Think about how they breathe. Beyond just thinking about it, mimic it. That’s right, try to breathe fast like a rabbit and notice how quickly you’ll exhaust yourself. Notice how tight your face, head, neck, and shoulders get. Also notice your heart, it likely sped up too. For contrast, now breathe like a turtle, deep, slow, and even. In just a few short breaths, feel how your body responds to slowing down. Feel your muscles relax, feel your heart rate settle, feel yourself grow heavy and grounded. Isn’t that much nicer?
From this little bit of “slow” that you’ve just created with a simple turtle’s breath, it may be easier to realize the instant physiological benefit of slowing down. However, the benefits are more than just physical, our mental, emotional, and spiritual states are impacted too. Even the surrounding environment and the people nearby can feel a subtle shift. My teacher put it plainly: Slow breath, Calm Heart. Calm Heart, Gentle Spirit. Gentle Spirit, Happy Human. Happy Human, Happy Humanity.
Your Time Your Tempo
To apply this wisdom, pay attention to the pace of your day. For some, they are late the instant they wake up from bed. From there, the frantic pace has already started: half ass hygiene, breakfast on the go, a gallon of coffee in a big gulp cup, and all just to lag through traffic in a crazy commute to get to a job they hate with people they loathe. At this pace, many are burnt out by mid week, fatigued by mid year, and dead by mid life.
Perhaps this specific storyline isn’t relatable for everyone, but the fact remains, life happens to all of us, and we all know what it’s like to run around at a late rabbit’s pace. When those tight times inevitably arise, again – for one moment – forget your story and simply observe your breath. Chances are, your breathing is short and shallow – that is, if you’re even breathing at all! Now check in with your heart, it’s probably pounding too; and don’t forget body tension, where are you holding it? What should we do when life picks up and you notice all of these body conditions arise? Slow down!
Slow Your Own Roll
No one has the power to control their circumstance, but all of us have the power to manage ourselves amidst challenging times. Life won’t slow down for you, so schedule your own time to be leisurely. The best is first thing in the morning, that way you can set the tone for your day. From there, fit bits of slow in wherever you can. Take a different route when you commute. Park further away and walk under some trees. Make time to gaze out of a window and sigh. Even better still, share some slow with a loved one. If you can afford to go slow, embrace it – your peace of mind is worth it.