The Art of Slowing Down in a Busy World
Any one who really knows me is probably wondering why I would be writing on this topic when I seem to always be moving and at lightning speed. And they would be right to question. I used to literally run from point A to point B because it was faster than walking. Female Forrest Gump. My mind has never fared much better as a chill zone. This is how I am wired. Needless to say, the process of slowing down is an ongoing one for me. Still, I have come a long way. I have learned a few methods that help to navigate this fast paced world in a more gentle stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of way.
Breathe damn it
Breathing is simple and automatic. We wouldn't be alive without it so there is no need to give it any more thought right? If you want the easiest and fastest way to ease stress and anxiety, improve digestion, posture, inflammation, energy, blood flow, your lymphatic system, and relaxation of both mind and body... look no further than focusing on deep breathing. It doesn't need to be super complicated either. There are numerous ways to breath for mediation with all the aforementioned benefits. It can be as simple as drawing your breath in as deeply as you can, hold for a moment and try to breath out even deeper. Go ahead, try a few and see how you feel. Staying with that breath for longer than a minute and aiming to keep your mind on that breath and you start to feel as if the world is slowing down even if nothing has changed other than your mind and breath. Tried it but feel like you're riding the struggle bus the whole time? It is simple but can be very challenging at the same time I know. Here is a breathing meditation guide that will help. Or check out one of the many meditation apps available on your phone.
Let it go
Holding on to feelings like anger, resentment, and regret are extremely toxic. We are each in charge of our own feelings. No one can make you feel a certain way. It is ultimately a choice even though it may not always seem to be. Even if it takes a lot of work and time to let the bullcrap go, it is so worth it when you can. Forgiving someone that you know was in the wrong is difficult. If you can not find the forgiveness somewhere within yourself you allow them to hurt you even more over and over again. There were people in my life whom it has literally taken me years of praying for help in forgiving them because I knew I didn't have it in myself to do so on my own. At times thinking I finally let go only to have those horrible feelings arise again. But when release finally happened, only lightness was left in the place of the burden that had taken up residence for so long. Like anything, the more we practice, the easier it becomes. It is the same with all those feelings we have that we know are not healthy. Picture yourself releasing them and how good it will feel when that anchor is not weighing down your sailboat.
Let it be
The beauty of nature and all of our surroundings can get lost and muted if we let it. The same things that were once wonderous and bright when we were a child loses its splendor as an adult. For me, the sunrise and sunset will never get boring. I feel that same excitement of anticipation knowing I am about to witness a tapestry that is both perfect and unique with every dawn and dusk through thousands of years. It is a connection to the past and future yet I can completely slow down and fully be in the present moment. Surfing has this same effect on me. The vast sea that connects all of mankind from one end of the world to the other yet in its sameness, its conditions are different all over the world and from one minute to the next. To locate the right moment to catch a wave and to stay present in each moment while riding the wave is necessary and beautiful. Find your wonder. Even if you are stuck in an urban jungle. Use all of your senses to notice everything around you. Imagine you are Matrix style slowing everything down around you. You have the power to turn what seems ordinary into extraordinary.
There is an off button. Use it.
Imagine all this amazing technology that we have access to as your many electronic leashes or fences. The dog would gladly get rid of his if he could. Why then do we have such a death grip on ours? Well, for one, things like social media have been designed to create a chemical addiction in our brains by essentially syringing dopamine straight into our system. At this point we have all not only grown up with a television, but had the addition wifi and cell phones at our fingertips. It was when I was in Italy for close to 2 weeks and forgot my phone that I realized how addicted I was. It was so freeing to not have any t.v., computer, or phone to distract from the world around me. I didn't realize how many books I could read in my all that down time that would normally get wasted in cyber world. Of course returning home the struggle to step away is a daily difficult one but, I try to make it a priority. Here are some methods you can implement to unplug:
Block out time daily. It can be a set time each day or times throughout the day that you remove the technology from within reach like during dinner, other family times, or alone time. Or it can be a certain amount of time like a few hours a day you vow to give up the habit of checking your phone.
Take a weekend getaway from all tech. Do this one day a week or a weekend a month after your obligations are done. Let people know that you will be out of reach if need be.
If leaving all technology is daunting, try one area at a time. A few days without t.v. A week without social media interaction. Even better, replace those with human interaction, personal growth books, or reading just for fun.
If you are constantly doing high intensity exercise, give yourself a break and do things like walking (even better, do a meditation walk outdoors using your senses to enjoy your surrounds with deep breathing), yoga, pilates, or other lightweight/low intensity exercises. Take a week to slow it all down and your body will come back refreshed and recharged.
We can be busy and still not productive in what truly matters to us. This was a big one for me. Aside from the physical running of one place to another, my schedule was insane most days. I was a perfectionist being pulled in what felt like a thousand directions. When I do something, I usually give it my all. So I found myself giving my all into being a mother, homeschool teacher, head volunteer for a major organization, Sunday school teacher, girl scout mom, personal trainer, fitness instructor, life coach, social media ad marketing side job, entrepreneur start up, mlm company owner, my own web designer, blogger, and sponsored athlete in multiple sports training 20 hours a week all while struggling with Lyme Disease from which the doctors left me stranded with no help. Eventually my engine burned out. No surprise there. I made many changes all at once and ditched a lot of things in my life as well as distanced myself from energy and life sapping people. When you realize you are not experiencing the joy you once had, are busy but unfulfilled, exhausted with nothing to show for it, your health suffers, the people in your life that you really care about suffer when you are not there for them, you are living mostly to please others while your best interests are set aside, or any other sign that a change needs to happen. Stop. Spend time to think about who you are and what is important to you. Where you want to go in life. Write things down that come to you. Put a plan in place to make a change. It can be a small change or it can be a huge one or a whole lot of changes. Not everyone will be happy with those changes but they are not living your life. You only have one life and you only have one you that you are stuck with every time you look in the mirror. Don't let others determine your happiness, be bold and take what is yours. Your priorities; your joy.