Isn't it ironic how we have innovative gadgets and smart technology at our fingertips to help us save time and make our lives more efficient, yet we have wound up more chaotic and frenzied than ever before.
For many, life spins so fast that there is no time to deeply enjoy it anymore. Our obsession with doing more, getting more and striving for more has turned into an addiction. Despite being more connected than ever before we have never been so disconnected from the world that surround us. The fast and hurried life is hectic, controlling, competitive, aggressive, depressive, analytical, anxiety-ridden, superficial, impatient, self-centred and destructive.
“In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.” - Plato
Somewhere between the frenzy we must learn to get in the habit of taking a deep breath, simplifying our thoughts, take stock of what is going on around us and then choose to slow down.
SLOW. I have been marinating in that word and way of life for some time now. I have learned to embrace the SLOW movement and my reward for living this way is to find a 'deeper and more meaningful existence' that brings great inner-contentment.
A slower-paced life means finding more space without the need to clutter it up. Space is considered an art form in Japan where the manipulation of space gives more depth and meaning to something. Space in our lives allows us to think, create, grow, to feel and to be.
By choosing to go slow we choose to release life’s incessant busyness, mindlessness, clutter and speed. To choose the SLOW life is about embracing and reconnecting with life, with ourselves, with our friends and family, our environment and with nature. Its about taking back control of our own lives, rather than being controlled by time and the opinions of others, or lack thereof. It is also about dropping mainstream opinions and beliefs and choosing a way of life that feels right within. More than anything, SLOW living is a soft term for choosing to live a more ethical and reconnected life.
The slow life is calm, mindful, considerate, intuitive, reflective, patient, ethical, balanced and healing.
Slow doesn't mean doing nothing or very little. It is about slowing down our over-analytical monkey mind and learning to accept the moment. It is about finding the right tempo and balance that makes us feel good. I am personally a very energetic person who lives a SLOW life. I don't watch television, I choose to not get involved in petty dramas and I am constantly curious about life and open to every opportunity that comes my way. I snowboard, hike, paddle board, camp, travel, cook, garden and even enjoy the repetitious chore of cleaning all the rooms in my 15 room bed and breakfast.
I also find it very humbling to spend time in my garden where mother nature rules supreme. Spending time in the garden takes me to a place that is meditative and connected. Blue wrens flit from rose bush to rose bush, galahs sit on the branches above and watch on with curiosity while magpies take a seat next to me in hope of grabbing a few worms when I unearth some new soil. And sometimes if the baby wombats are behaving I will also let them come out for a rumble and play. The gentle sunshine warms my back and without the interruptions of mobile rings or the ding of emails and Facebook messages the day joyfully goes by.
City friends find it hard to understand why I don't crave the weekend shopping trips and wonder how I survive without the trendy cafe culture. To be honest I survive quite easily and blissfully - leaving all this behind. For me choosing to live a more SLOW way of life has enabled me to disconnect from modern day streams of endless communication and in its place creative thoughts take shape, ideas materialise, opportunities appear and a deeper knowing of 'whats truly important' manifests.
The beauty of SLOW living is that it can be different for everyone. It is about slowing our mind and walking to the rhythm of our own pace. It doesn't mean you have to have a tree-change and grow all your own food. Many people in cities have found ways to live a full-filling SLOW city life. Our world is overflowing with new things and choices everyday and it can be incredibly hard to not get sucked into the vortex. However; sometimes we just need to savour the hours and mundane chores rather than wishing them away. We must choose to do things as well as possible rather than as quickly as we can. In every aspect of life from our thoughts, relationships, money, experiences and stuff - we must always opt for quality over quantity.
“Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you’re left only with what you love, with what’s necessary, with what makes you happy.” - Leo Babauta,
The telltale signs of living to fast are fatigue, anxiety, stress, illness and not finding enjoyment in the everyday moments. Illness, whether it is depression or cancer is sometimes really the only way the body has of saying "Enough".
Take off your watch occasionally - on Sundays, holidays and evenings out. Turn off your phone. Choose to have media free days every so often where you avoid all television, internet, magazines and newspapers. These are some of the main elements that govern our lives, often they are the first thing we look at on our waking and the last thing we check before going to sleep. They keep us on the move throughout the day. They are hard to live without - they are addictive. We need to take control rather than being controlled.
Slowing down is so simple. So basic. So easy. Yet not an easy one to master. For me personally, choosing the SLOW philosophy has stripped me bare, it has been the getting of wisdom and it has allowed me to clear the clutter so that I can discover what truly matters in life. I have learned to open my mind and heart to others. I have found deep fulfilment in serving others yet have enough strength within to not expect anything in return. I no longer need validation from anything outside myself. The SLOW life has grounded me and reconnected me to a more meaningful existence.
It has lead me to a greater appreciation for life and a deeper sense of contentment.
Here are few ways on how to implement a little more SLOW in your life:
- Do less. We are a society of multi-taskers - we have our mobile phone in one hand and a list of endless chores in the other. It takes commitment to make the effort to slow down - especially when we are so use to running at a million miles an hour. However, I gently urge you to do less. Focus on what's important and let go of the rest. Schedule breathing space between your tasks and move through your days at a more leisurely pace.
- Be present. Slowing down is simply not enough. You also need to be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the time. Get in the habit of becoming aware of your thoughts. When you find yourself either future tripping or rehashing over the past allow yourself to breathe and gently bring yourself back to the present moment.
- Embrace the ordinary. In todays over-achieving world ordinary has such a bad rap. Too often we spend our lives chasing the dream. We spend far to much time striving and never arriving. Rather than getting so hung up on outcomes choose to accept the everyday things as beautiful. Learn to find enjoyment in everything. This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores — washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry — and anything you do. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.
- Disconnect. Take time to disconnect from everything. Its impossible to slow down when you are always filtering new information that is coming in at you. This means if you carry around a mobile phone you need to shut it off - or better yet, leave it at home. Stop checking your Facebook, email or instagram every 20 minutes. If your workdays are spent in front of a computer for most of the day ensure you take your meal breaks and get outside [without your phone]. Being connected all the time wears you out - plus you are opening yourself up for interruptions and the demands of others.
- Pay attention to others. Have you been guilty of being in a conversation with someone only to walk away and not really know what you were talking about. Too often we spend time with friends,family and work colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by mobile phones or our own thoughts. Connect with people rather than just talking with them.
- Appreciate nature. Many of us spend hours cooped up within our home, office and car, and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and admire the greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Try to do this daily where possible.
- Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down as quickly as possible which ultimately leads to overeating and a lack of enjoyment for our food. Learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. When eating - just eat - don't allow yourself to get distracted with other activities such as watching tv, talking on the phone or scrolling through your instagram feed.
- Live green and sustainable. ‘Green living’ is the new black, with urban farms, locally sourced food and socially responsible consumer products on the uprise. Aspire to live more greener, gentler and kinder. Its a beautiful philosophy and way of life that protects the well-being of all beings and the planet.
- Drive slower. Speedy driving has become the norm in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life, and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.
- Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back.
- Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down.
- Consume ethically + mindfully. Choosing to spend money wisely contributes significantly to the economic sustainability and resilience of a community, town, or geographic area. It is about shopping locally, selling locally, working locally and of course growing as much of our own food as is practicable. If we choose to support local communities and ethical enterprises we take the power away from the big players - we ultimately become an effective contributor to, and participant in, the slow money movement. Mindful consumerism is creating real change and fostering a new economy.
- Seek balance + well-being. Don’t let it take a health scare or tragic event to wake you up to make the changes to your life that you know in your heart you need to make today. Your mind, body and heart have the capacity to tell you if something is not right – choose to trust in that instinct and take action on it. Take care of your mind and body, build yourself strong and robust so that you have the energy and positivity to ‘live a life that matters’. Live each day connected to life – doing the very best you can – for both yourself and others.
The SLOW living Movement is gaining traction as more people realise it is the only way to experience life. People are downshifting. Vegan is becoming the norm. Consumers are demanding organic, fair-trade and ethically made. Natural is no longer a marketing slogan but a way of life.
Why is this happening? What are we searching for? I believe we are seeking a meaningful life. We are searching for connection within ourselves, our family, our community, our friends, to the food we eat, places we visit, and to the experiences that life serves up for us.